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The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
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http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924028003436 




THE AUTHOR. 
From a snapshot taken by an American soldier at Coblenz, 1919. 



E»iryy ll'alker. 



FROM PRIVATE 
TO FIELD-MARSHAL 



BY FIELD-MARSHAL 

Sir WILLIAM ROBERTSON Bart. 

G.C.B., G.C.M.G., K.C.V.O., D.S.O. 
Hon, LL.D. Cambridge, Hon. D.C.L. Oxford 



ILLUSTRATED 



LONDON 
CONSTABLE AND COMPANY LTD, 

1921 



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SECOND IMPRESSION 



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2)et)icateb 

TO THE MEMORY OF MY MOTHER 
TO WHOSE AFFECTIONATE AND INSPIRING TEACHINGS 
IN EARLY LIFE IS ATTRIBUTABLE SUCH MERIT, 
IF ANY, AS MAY ATTACH TO MY CAREER.^ 



PREFACE 

The only justification for publishing this book is that it 
describes the climbing of a soldier from the bottom to the 
top of the military ladder, and even in this feat there is 
nothing remarkable beyond the fact that it happens to be 
the first of its kind in the annals of the British Army. 

Energy and determination are usually essential to 
advancement in any vocation, and are at the disposal of 
every one possessing a good constitution. Given the exercise 
of these quahties and the same help from real friends as I 
enjoyed — ^friends who had nothing to gain and perhaps 
something to lose by showing friendship — any man can 
equal what I have accomplished. 

Still, the story here given may not be wholly without 
interest, especially to those who have their lives in front of 
them, and in the hope that it will prove to be so I have decided 
to let it go forth. Doubtless it has many defects, both in 
substance and style, which would have been less apparent 
if its preparation had been in more practised hands, and for 
these imperfections I ask lenient treatment. 

In writing the chapters deaUng with my service in the 
ranks and as a Subaltern Officer I have had to depend 
chiefly upon memory, which has become blurred and 
unreliable owing to the lapse of time and the crowded 
events of the last few years. Consequently it has not been 
possible to make this part of the book as complete as, to 
my mind, it deserves to be, for the period in question was 
in some ways the most fascinating and happy of all. For 
instance, I derived greater satisfaction from being pro- 
moted Lance-Corporal in 1878 — the first rung of the ladder 
— than I did from being created a Baronet forty years later ; 

vii 



viii FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

and, as Lieutenant, I felt prouder to be in command at 
the railhead of a Frontier Expeditionary Force in India of 
less than 10,000 men than, as General, to be Chief of the 
Imperial General Staff in the greatest conflict the world 
has ever known, when the number of our troops ran into 
several millions. 

In building up the chapters referring to the Great War, 
I was embarrassed by having not too little but too much 
material. The difficulty here was to make a suitable 
selection, and to include just so much about my share of 
the war as seemed appropriately to fall within the scope of 
the book. In particular I tried to avoid enlarging upon 
old controversies connected with the supreme direction of 
the war, and which occur to a greater or less extent in aU 
wars. I felt that a discussion of them would merely bore 
the ordinary reader, who is content to know that the war 
was in fact won ; while it would be of little use to any one 
unless the points in dispute were thoroughly examined in 
the light of complete evidence, and this would require a 
book for itself as well as access to of&cial documents which 
are not at my disposal. I have therefore made, as a rule, 
no more reference to these matters than was required to 
enable me to illustrate the work of the Imperial General 
Staff, of which I was Chief for about half the period of the 
war — four other officers filling that post at different times 
during the remaining half — and to emphasise the achieve- 
ments, though very inadequately, of the regimental officers 
and men of the Imperial Forces who won the war for us, 
and with whom I have had the honour to be associated 
for nearly forty-four years. 

W. R. ROBERTSON, 

Field-Marshal. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 

PAfiE 

Recruit at Aldershot ..... i 

Enlistment in i6th Lancers — ^The " Old Soldier " in the 
'Seventies — Barrack-room life — Rations — Pay — Kit and 
equipment — Uniform — Drills — Treatment of sick — Breaking 
out of barracks — Sundays — First Christmas Day — Night 
guards — Military offences and punishments — Guard-room — 
Articles of War — Muster parade — Punishment drill — ^Musketry 
course — Dismissed drills — Day guards — I allow a deserter to 
escape and so commit my first " crime " — Imprisoned in 
guard-room — My second " crime " — Promoted Lance-Corporal 
— Backward state of training — Field-days — Reasons for defect- 
ive training — Lord Wolseley, Sir Evelyn Wood, and other 
rising Generals effect great reforms — Successes in competitions 
at skill-at-arms. 



CHAPTER II 

Non-commissioned Officer . . , . -19 

Promoted Corporal — Stationed at Brighton — My third and 
last " crime " — Special duty at Chatham — Rejoin regiment and 
go to York — Promoted Lance-Sergeant — Special duties while 
at York — ^Musketry course at Hythe — Promoted Sergeant — 
Signalling course at Aldershot — Regiment goes to Dundalk — 
State of Ireland — Appointed Assistant Instructor of Signalling 
— Lieutenant Dugdale — Success of signallers announced in 
regimental orders — Assistant Instructor of Musketry and 
Military Reconnaissance — Escort prisoners to Limerick Gaol — 
Regiment goes to DubUn — Promoted Troop Sergeant-Major — 
Suicide of predecessor — Influence of Troop Sergeant-Major — 
Consider possibility of obtaining commission — Difficulties in 
the way of this — Regimental of&cer's expenses — DecHne Com- 
manding Of&cer's offer of a commission — Accept the same offer 
made by his successor — Vexatious delays retard commission — 
Pass examination for commission — Regiment goes to Aldershot 
— Gazetted Second Lieutenant in 3rd Dragoon Guards — Leave 
the 1 6th Lancers. 

ix 



FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 



CHAPTER III 

PAGE 

Subaltern in India . . . . . -34 

Join Cavalry Depot at Canterbury — Officer's course of 
musketry at Hythe — Leave England for India — Life on board 
a troopship — Join 3rd Dragoon Guards — Camp of exercise at 
Meerut — Pass Lower Standard Examination in Hindustani — 
Life at Muttra — Acting Adjutant and Station Staff Ofi&cer — 
Beer-tasting committees — Regiment attends Muridki Camp of 
exercise en route to Rawal Pindi — Ludicrous spectacle presented 
by native followers — State of training in India and reforms 
effected by General Luck — Visit of Prince Albert Victor to 
Muridki — Pass Higher Standard Examination in Hindustani — 
Successes at Rawal Pindi District Assault-at-Arms — On detach- 
ment at Murree — Pass examination in Persian — In charge of 
Government Grass Farm at Rawal Pindi — In charge of regi- 
mental signallers — Acting Station Staff Officer and Secretary 
of Assault-at-Arms Committee — Pass examinations in Punjabi 
and Pushtu — Black Mountain Expedition — Miranzai Expedi- 
tion — Some amusing incidents in connection with the latter — 
Posted to Army Headquarters, Simla. 



CHAPTER IV 

In the Intelligence Branch, Simla . . -So 

Indian Intelligence Branch reorganised by General Sir H. 
Brackenbury — Curious division of duties at Army Head- 
quarters — Comparison with system at home — Society favourites 
thought to have best chance of Staff employment — Colonels 
EUes and Mason — First permanent Staff appointment — 
Countries dealt with by North-West Frontier Section in which 
I am employed — Situation in Afghanistan — Kafiristan — 
Intricate frontier questions to be settled — Proceed on leave to 
England — Death of my mother — Frontier matters still dis- 
turbed on return to India — Question of Russian advance on 
India via the Pamirs — Ordered to reconnoitre route leading to 
Pamirs — Srinagar — Bridges in Kashmir — Gilgit — Rakapushi 
Mountain — Hunza — Meet Townshend and Fowler — Yasin — 
Darkot Pass — The Pamirs — Return to India via the Indus, 
Chilas, and Abbottabad— ^Pass examination in Gurkhali. 



CHAPTER V 

On the Intelligence Staff of the Chitral Relief 

Force ....... 66 

Punitive expedition sent into Waziristan — In temporary 
charge of Frontier Section— ;-Events leading up to the siege of 



CONTENTS xi 



PACE 



Chitral Fort — Umra Khan of Jandol implicated — Despatch of 
Chitral Relief Force from India and a detachment from Gilgit — 
Appointed to Headquarters Stafif of the Relief Force — Sir 
Robert Low — Colonel Bindon Blood — Captain Nixon — Nature 
of country to be traversed — Capture of the Malakand Pass — 
Action at Khar — Passage of Swat river — Efifective action of 
cavalry — Reconnaissances to Panjkora river and towards 
Umra Khan's headquarters — Fine fighting of Guides Infantry — 
Reconnaissance up the Panjkora — Meet Roddy Owen — Ad- 
vance on Miankilai and flight of Umra Khan — Siege of Chitral 
is raised — Reconnaissance down the Panjkora — Treacherously 
attacked by my two guides — Severely wounded — Sent back to 
India — Mentioned in Despatches and awarded D.S.O. — Pro- 
moted Captain — Preparation for StafiE College Entrance 
Examination — Nominated for entrance — Leave for England — 
Some reflections on service in India. 



CHAPTER VI 

Student at the Staff College . . . .81 

Colonel Hildyard — His views on the education of ofi&cers — 
Nature of the Staff College Course — Colonel Henderson — Lord 
Roberts* appreciation of him — First year's work at the college 
— Go to France to learn the language — Second year's work — 
Visit to battlefields of 1870 war — Visit the Meuse Valley and 
Belgian Ardennes — Umpire at army manoeuvres — Sir H. 
Brackenbury — Inspection of Staff College by Lord Wolseley — 
Value of Staff College training. 



CHAPTER VII 

On the Intelligence Staff, War Office . .91 

Posted to the Intelligence Division, War Office — Sir John 
Ardagh — Status of the Division — Its duties — Mr. Stanhope's 
memorandum regarding military policy — Hartington Com- 
mission recommends appointment of a Chief of the Staff — Sir 
Henry Campbell-Bannerman dissents — Recommendation not 
carried out — Effect of this in South African War — Colonial 
Defence Committee — ^Work in the Russian Section — Appointed 
Staff Captain in the Colonial Section — Captain Altham — 
Description of Colonial Empire — Work in the Colonial Section 
— Effect of our general unreadiness for war in regard to the 
South African situation — ^War declared against the South 
African RepubHcs — Forecast of cost of war — Sir George White 
sent to command in Natal — Altham goes with him and I take 
charge of the Colonial Section — Early developments in the war 
— Dependence on the Press for information — -Reverses at Storm- 
berg, Magersfontein, and Colenso — Buller suggests abandon- 
ment of attempt to relieve Ladysmith — Am consulted by a 
Cabinet Minister as to what should be done — Recommend 



xii FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

PAGE 

appointment of Commander-in-Chief as distinct from the Com- 
mander in Natal — Defence Committee of Cabinet appoint Lord 
Roberts, with Lord Kitchener as Chief of Staff — Proceed to 
South Africa to join the Staff of Lord Roberts. 



CHAPTER VIII 

On the Headquarters Staff in the South African 

War . . . . . . .104 

Situation on arrival at Cape Town — Formation of mounted 
infantry — Lord Roberts' plan of operations and measures 
taken to preserve secrecy — Composition of InteUigence Staff 
at Headquarters — Arrival of Headquarters at Modder river — 
Lord Roberts' care for his troops — Mystifying Cronje as to 
the proposed hne of advance — General situation at this time — 
BuUer asks for reinforcements — Lord Roberts adheres to his 
plan — Cavalry Division crosses Free State frontier and reheves 
Kimberley — Pursuit of Cronje — Battle of Paardeberg — Con- 
fusion caused by bad system of command — Investment of 
Cronje — Cronje surrenders and is brought into camp — He is 
sent to St. Helena — Grierson joins Headquarters — His efforts 
to improve defective methods of staff work — Lord Roberts' 
instructions in regard to battle of Poplar Grove — Imperfect 
arrangements for the battle enable Boer forces to make good 
their retreat — Advance continued to Bloemfontein — Summary 
of events to date — Standard of staff work and tactics inferior 
to strategy — Strategy never so good again — Some reasons for 
this — Henderson's health breaks down and he returns to 
England — He commences to write the Official History of the 
War — His death in Egypt in 1903 — The soldier's difficulties in 
writing ofi&cial histories — ^The advance from Bloemfontein to 
Kronstad and thence to Pretoria — Boer guerilla warfare — Lord 
Roberts' plan — Hardships of march and fine spirit of the men 
— Action of Diamond Hill — The advance to Middelburg — The 
De Wet hunts — Recalled to the War Ofl&ce — Reach rank of 
Major — Promoted Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel for services in 
the war. 



CHAPTER IX 

Head of the Foreign Intelligence Section, War Office 127 

Resume work in Intelligence Division — Lord Roberts returns 
to England and becomes Commander-in-Chief — Visit defended 
ports — Intelligence arnl mobihsation combined under the charge 
of Sir W. Nicholson — Am made head of the Foreign Section of 
InteUigence — Promoted Colonel, 1904 — Selection of military 
attaches — Preparations for war hampered by lack of a pohcy 
— Our International position — Defence of India — Examination 
of it and Lord Kitchener's objections to our calculations — 
Esher Committee — Reorganisation of War Office and forma- 



^ 



CONTENTS xiii 

PAGE 

tion of General Stafif — Post of Commander-in-Chief abolished 
— Sir N. Lyttelton becomes first Chief of the General Staff — 
Committee of Imperial Defence estabhshed — War preparations 
now become more feasible — Bogy of Russian attack on India 
disappears and contingency of war with Germany begins to 
take its place — Agreements with France, Russia, and Japan — 
Expeditionary Force formed — Grierson and Huguet largely 
instrumental in this — Lord Roberts resigns from Committee 
of Imperial Defence — First attempt to give a military lecture 
— Visits between 1902 and 1906 to Northern Africa, Canada, 
America, the Balkans, Belgium, Portugal, Germany, and other 
European countries — Leave War Office on expiration of 
appointment — Placed on half-pay, 1907. 



CHAPTER X 

Brigadier-General, General Staff, Aldershot . .152 

Translate German regulations regarding heavy artillery — 
Assistant Quartermaster-General, Aldershot, 1907 — Become 
Chief of General Staff there six months later — Smith-Dorrien — 
Officers on the Aldershot Staff — Comparison of soldier's fife in 
1907 with that in 1877 — Similar comparison in regard to train- 
ing — Smith-Dorrien's methods — Weakness of units — Innova- 
tions in organisation and improvements in training — System 
of obtaining ground for manoeuvres — False teaching of 
manoeuvres — Smith-Dorrien's practical views — Staff tours — 
Visits of King Edward — Visits of King George and Queen 
Mary — Aeroplanes — Balloons — The Caterpillar — Ordered to 
take up post of Commandant, Staff College. 



CHAPTER XI 

Commandant of the Staff College . . .169 

History of College — Students and staff — Promoted Major- 
General — Subjects of study — Nature of staff tours — System 
of classifying the students — Defects in instruction — Points on 
which special emphasis was laid — Importance of considering 
defensive as well as offensive warfare — Warning given to 
students about war with Germany — Naval War College — 
Admirals Jackson and Colville — Visits to the Loire and Amiens 
battlefields of 1870 war — My first speech in French — General 
Picquart — With the King's suite on army manoeuvres — 
Adventures with Oxley while motoring — Trinity College — 
Created Knight of the Victorian Order — Leave the Staff 
College to become Director of MiUtary Training. 



xiv FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 



CHAPTER XII 

PAGE 

Director of Military Training . . . .186 

Duties — Unsatisfactory responsibility for training — Arrange- 
ments for command at home in time of war — "Staff" 
cannot " command " — Question of invasion — Invasion ruled 
out as impracticable and replaced by theory of raids — 
Reversion to invasion theory — Question mainly one for the 
Admiralty — Constant discussions finally settled in August 191 4 
— PoUcy as to invasion during the Great War — Economy 
exercised to the detriment of training — " Curragh incident " 
and its effect on Army officers — " Joe " Maude — Collapse of 
the proposed coercion of Ulster and resignation of the Secretary 
of State for War, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and 
the Adjutant-General — Sir Charles Douglas — Army manoeuvres 
arranged for 1914 — War with Germany declared — Am appointed 
Quartermaster-General of the British Expeditionary Force. 



CHAPTER XIII 

Quartermaster-General, British Expeditionary Force 197 

Organisation and duties of G.H.Q. — System of supply and 
maintenance — ^The I.G.C. — His duties are curtailed — The 
" Directors " — ^My Staff — Arrive at Paris with the Commander- 
in-Chief — Stay at the Hotel Crillon — Visit J off re at Vitry-le- 
Fran9ois — Reach G.H.Q. at Le Cateau — Concentration of the 
Force — Various situations to be thought out — Discuss change 
of base with I.G.C. — Commander-in-Chief's conference before 
battle of Mons — The retreat from Mons — Replacement of 
clothing and equipment lost in the retreat — Confusion caused 
by change of base — Control of railways in French hands — 
Difficulty of knowing where troops were — Phght of refugees — 
Willing spirit shown by all ranks to help each other — Despatch 
riders — G.H.Q. move successively to St. Quentin, Noyon, 
Compi^gne, Dammartin, Lagny, Melun — The move from Dam- 
martin to Lagny — Force becomes part of Paris garrison under 
GaUieni — Battle of the Marne — Brutalities of German troops — 
G.H.Q. at Coulommiers and F^re-en-Tardenois — Want of heavy 
artillery on the Aisne — Move round to Flanders — First battle 
of Ypres — State of trenches — Cross the Channel with Lord 
Roberts — His death at St. Omer — Succeed Murray as Chief of 
the General Staff at G.H.Q. 



CHAPTER XIV 

Chief of the General Staff, British Expeditionary 

Force . . . . . . .219 

Duties — Arrangements for training — Reorganisation of the 
General Staff — My principal assistants — Signal communica- 



CONTENTS XV 



PAGE 



tions — Flying Corps — Life at G.H.Q. — Relations with units at 
the front — Liaison officers — Situation on West Front at 
beginning of 1915 — Position of British Commander-in-Chief — 
Results of unreadiness for war — Uncertainty as to reinforce- 
ments and war material — Neuve Chapelle — Second battle of 
Ypres — Withdrawal from part of the SaHent — Festubert — 
Loos — Allies short of war material — JofiEre's first conference of 
Allied Representatives — My views on the general situation and 
conduct of the war — Decide to send them to the C.I.G.S. at 
the War Office — He forwards them to the Cabinet — ^Lord 
Kitchener asks me to become C.I.G.S. — I send him my views 
as to the status and duties of the General Staff — He cannot 
agree with some of them and proposes to resign — Meet him at 
Calais and discuss his objections — ^They are satisfactorily 
removed — I leave G.H.Q. for the War Office. 



CHAPTER XV 

Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 1916 . . 246 

General situation in all theatres — Reorganisation of the 
General Staff — Position of C.I.G.S. — Relations with Joffre, 
Cadoma, and Alexeieff — War Council and War Cabinet — 
Relations between Ministers and their professional advisers — 
Proposed war policy approved by Cabinet — Send instructions 
to Commanders-in-Chief — Steps to imparove training and 
organisation of troops at home and abroad — Home Defence — 
India and India Office responsible for Mesopotamia — Need for 
comprehensive plan for utilising man-power — Cabinet Com- 
mittee set up to deal with the question — Lord Kitchener 
and compulsory service — ^Many people objected to it — Problem 
of providing officers — Production of tanks — Evacuation of 
Gallipoli — Operations in Mesopotamia — Campaign is handed 
over to the War Office — Fall of Kut-el-Amara — Appointment 
of Maude as Commander-in-Chief — His successes — Operations in 
Egypt and Macedonia — Disadvantages of employing armies of 
mixed nationahties — East Africa — Smuts and Van Dewenter — ■ 
Operations on the West Front — Verdun and the Somme — 
Situation at the end of the year — Ministers' dissatisfaction — 
Tendency to try new methods and plans — Joffre superseded 
by Nivelle as Commander-in-Chief of French armies — His plan 
for 191 7 rejected by Governments in favour of Nivelle 's plan — 
My relations with Joffre — Change of Government — My relations 
with Lord Kitchener — ^The part he played in the war. 



CHAPTER XVI 

Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 19 17-18 . 291 

Allied Conference at Rome — ^Method of conducting these 
conferences — Admiral Bacon — Dover patrol — Relations with 
Admiralty Staff — Admirals Jackson, Jellicoe, and Wemyss — Re- 
organisation of Admiralty Staff — Lord Fisher — Visit to Italian 



xvi FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

PAGE 

Front — General Staff views on man-power — Difficulty of 
providing drafts — Question many times raised during 191 7 — 
Young soldier battalions — Events on Russian Front — Palestine 
Campaign — Operations on West Front — ^Nivelle replaced by 
Petain — Foch becomes Chief of French General Staff — My 
relations with him — Messines — Passchendaele — Cambrai — 
Defeat of Itahans — Alternative plans suggested during the 
year — Evils attending unnecessary changes of plan — Difficulty 
of keeping strategical direction of war on right lines — Con- 
sideration by General Staff of plans for 191 8 — Conclusions 
reached — Anxiety regarding man-power and shipping — Generals 
Pershing and BUss — Question of unity of command — -Various 
proposals made in 191 5 — Calais agreement of February 
1 91 7 — Consideration by mihtary authorities in summer of 
191 7 — Rapallo Conference estabUshes a Supreme War Council — 
A political not a miUtary body — The technical advisers of the 
Council become executive officers — Am unable to accept the 
Government's arrangement for giving effect to this decision 
— This leads to my removal from the War Of&ce — Measures 
taken after the German offensive in March 1918 — My in- 
debtedness to many friends whilst C.I.G.S. 



CHAPTER XVII 

Commander-in-Chief, Great Britain . . . 342 

Appointed Commander-in-Chief of Eastern Command — 
Excessive number of men retained in United Kingdom — Re- 
organisation of the Eastern Command Staff — Become Com- 
mander-in-Chief, Great Britain — Reorganisation of Head- 
quarters Staff — Organisation of commands — Inspections — 
Good work of hospitals — Defence schemes — Anti-aircraft 
defdhces — Air warfare of the future — Science should be given 
a more prominent place in our war preparations — Visits to 
the Grand Fleet — Co-operation of American Navy — Admiral 
Sims — Discontent on demobilisation — Industrial unrest — Chair- 
man of Committee on Officers' Pay — King reviews young 
soldier battalions in Hyde Park — Appointed to command the 
British Army of the Rhine. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

Commander-in-Chief, British Army of the Rhine . 357 

Composition of Headquarters Staff — Distribution of Allied 
troops — The British zone — ^The Mihtary Governor — Adminis- 
tration of the occupied territory — Meaning of martial law 

PoUcy as to industrial questions — Strength of Army — Its 
reorganisation — Preparations for the advance into unoccupied 

territory — Visit of the King and Queen of the Belgians 

Visits of the Duke of Connaught, Marshal Foch, Marshal Joffre, 
General Pershing, and other distinguished officers — Visit of the 



CONTENTS xvii 

PAGE 

Army Council — Interchange of visits with AUied Generals — 
Peace celebrations at Paris, Brussels, and London — Deer- 
stalking in Scotland — Sir Michael Culme-Seymour — Lord 
Charles Beresford — Changes made in system of administration 
and reduction of Army on ratification of peace — Farewells 
previous to leaving for England — Promoted Field-Marshal. 



CHAPTER XIX 

Some Final Reflections . . . . .380 

Characteristics of British soldier — Unpopularity of the army 
as compared with the navy — Study of military history by 
statesmen — Results of its neglect. 



DATES OF PROMOTION . . . . .387 

FOREIGN HONOURS RECEIVED DURING THE 

GREAT WAR . . . . . .388 

INDEX . . . . . . .389 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



Portrait of Author 

At the Army Manoeuvres, 1913 . 

Lord Roberts at the Staflf College 

Gentlemen Cadets making a Cask-bridge 

Marshal Joffre . 

Inspection of Gentlemen Cadets 

Lord Kitchener. 

Allied Conference at the Quai d'Orsay 

Visit to the Italian Front 

Marshal Foch . 

Inspection of Italian troops 

Canadian Officers 

General Allen, American army . 

General Michel, Belgian army . 

General Mangin, French army . 

General Gouraud, French army . 

At Laeken Palace 



Frontispiece 

FACING PACK 
166 



176 
186 

266 
288 
292 
296 

312 

344 
358 
366 
368 
370 
376 



Map illustrating journey to Pamirs, 1894, and Chitral Expedition, 
1895 ....... 



80 



XIX 



CHAPTER I 

RECRUIT AT ALDERSHOT 

Enlistment in i6th Lancers — The " Old Soldier " in the 'Seventies — - 
Barrack-room life — Rations — Pay — Kit and equipment — Uniform 
— Drills — ^Treatment of sick — Breaking out of barracks — Sundays 
— First Christmas Day — Night guards — Military offences and 
punishments — Guard-room — Articles of War — ^Muster parade — 
Punishment drill — -Musketry course — Dismissed drills — Day guards 
— I allow a deserter to escape and so commit my first " crime " — 
Imprisoned in guard-room — ^My second " crime " — Promoted Lance- 
Corporal — Backward state of training — Field-days — Reasons for 
defective training — Lord Wolseley, Sir Evelyn Wood, and other 
rising Generals effect great reforms — Successes in competitions at 
skill-at-arms. 

I WAS seventeen and three-quarters years old when, having 
decided to seek my fortune in the army, I took the " Queen's 
Shilling " from a recruiting sergeant in the city of Worcester 
on the 13th of November 1877. The minimum age for en- 
Hstment was eighteen, but as I was tall for my years the 
sergeant said that the deficient three months would involve 
no difficulty, and he promptly wrote me down as eighteen 
years and two months — so as to be on the safe side — and 
that has been the basis of my official age ever since. For 
some reason that has now escaped my memory I was 
detained at Worcester for four days, receiving in the mean- 
time two shillings and a halfpenny per diem for board and 
lodgings. The odd halfpenny strikes one as being a queer 
item, but it had no doubt been arrived at by Her Majesty's 
Treasury after careful calculation of the cost actually 
incurred. The recruiting sergeant, a kindly disposed in- 
dividual, took possession of the whole sum, giving me in 
return excellent, if homely, accommodation and food at 
his own house. 

The regiment I selected to join, the i6th (Queen's) 

I B 



2 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Lancers, was stationed in the West Cavalry Barracks, 
Aldershot, and on arrival there, on a wet and dreary 
November evening, the first people I met were the " orderly 
officer " and the regimental sergeant-major, both of whom 
showed a sympathetic interest in me. I wats at once posted 
as No. 1514 to " G " Troop, the officer saying to me as I 
went off, " Give your watch to the sergeant-major of your 
troop, my lad," and, as I wrote home a few days later, I 
did so, " for it is unsafe to leave it lying about, and there is 
nowhere you can carry it with safety." 

The regiment was commanded at the time by Colonel 
Whigham, who had originally served in the infantry. The 
adjutant. Lieutenant '* Jimmy " Babington, was a fine horse- 
man, a strict discipUnarian, and universally regarded as an 
ideal cavalry officer. He was more than that, as is shown by 
his selection in 1914, when nearly 60 years of age, to command 
one of the Kitchener Divisions. This he took out to France 
the following year, and from then onwards was continuously 
in command of the division or an army corps, in France or 
in Italy, until the end of the war, a task which proved to be 
beyond the physical powers of many a younger man in the 
hard and incessant fighting on the West Front. 

" G " Troop was commanded by Captain Henry Graliam, 
one of the most kind-hearted men under whom it has been 
my lot to serve. His subaltern. Lieutenant " Freddy " 
Blair, was somewhat of a terror to all shirkers and wrong- 
doers in the troop, but I have no recollection of having been 
on his black list ; and I am sure that neither of us then 
thought that forty-one years later I would be Commander- 
in-Chief of the Eastern Command and he would be my 
military secretary. But so it turned out. 

The life of a recruit in 1877 was a very different matter 
from what it is now. The system introduced in 1871-72 by 
Mr. Cardwell— one of the greatest War Ministers the country 
has ever had — under which men enlisted for twelve years' 
regular service, had not yet had time to get into full swing. 
Regiments were, therefore, still composed mainly of old 
soldiers who, although very admirable comrades in some 
respects and with a commendable code of honour of their 
own, were in many cases— not in all— addicted to rough 



ENLISTMENT 3 

behaviour, heavy drinking, and hard swearing. They could 
not well be blamed for this. Year in and year out they 
went through the same routine, were treated like machines 
— of an inferior kind — and having little prospect of finding 
decent employment on the expiration of their twenty-one 
years' engagement, they lived only for the present, the 
single bright spot in their existence being the receipt of a 
few shillings — perhaps not more than one — on the weekly 
pay-day. These rugged veterans exacted full deference 
from the recruit, who was assigned the worst bed in the 
room, given the smallest amount of food and the least 
palatable, had to " lend " them articles of kit which they 
had lost or sold, " fag " for them in a variety of ways, and, 
finally, was expected to share with them at the regimental 
canteen such cash as he might have in the purchase of beer 
sold at 3d. a quart. 

It so happened that I joined the regiment on pay-day, 
and accordingly the greater number of my newly-found 
companions spent the evening at the canteen — then a mere 
drinking saloon — or at public-houses in the town. On 
return to quarters, if not before, old quarrels were revived 
or new ones were started, and some of them had to be 
settled by an appeal to fists. One of these encounters took 
place on and near the bed in which I was vainly tr5dng to 
sleep, and which was itself of an unattractive and uncom- 
fortable nature. Argument and turmoil continued far into 
the night, and I began to wonder whether I had made a 
wise decision after all. I continued to wonder for several 
nights afterwards, and would He awake for hours meditating 
whether to see the matter through, or get out of bed, put 
on my plain clothes (which I still had), and " desert." For- 
tunately for me another occupant of the room removed the 
temptation these clothes afforded, for, having none of his 
own, he one night appropriated mine, went off in them, and 
never came back. 

Shortly before the period of which I write it had been 
the custom for a married soldier and his wife, with such 
children as they possessed, to Hve in one comer of the 
barrack-room, screened off with blankets, and in return for 
this accommodation and a share of the rations the wife kept 



4 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

the room clean, washed and mended the men's under- 
clothing, and attended to the preparation of their meals. 
This custom was not without its good points, as the women 
exercised a steadying influence over the men, while the 
latter seldom if ever forgot that a woman was in the room, 
and any one who did forget was promptly brought to order 
by the others. Still, it could not be wholly without its 
undesirable side, and the transfer of all women to *' married 
quarters " was a distinct change for the better. 

The barrack-room arrangements for sleeping and eating 
could not be classed as luxurious. The brown bed-blankets 
were seldom or ever washed ; clean sheets were issued once 
a month ; and clean straw for the mattresses once every 
three months. Besides the beds, the only other furniture 
consisted of four benches and two deal tables. The men 
polished their boots on the former, and the latter were used 
for cleaning the remaining articles of kit as well as for dining- 
tables. Tablecloths there were none, and plates and basins 
(paid for by the men) were the only crockery, the basin being 
used in turn as a coffee-cup, tea-cup, beer-mug, soup-plate, 
shaving-mug, and receptacle for pipe-clay with which to 
clean gloves and belts. 

The food provided free consisted of one pound of bread 
and three-quarters of a pound of meat, and nothing more 
of any kind. Groceries, vegetables, and all other require- 
ments were paid for by the men, who had a daily deduction 
of 3^d. made from their pay of is. 2d. for that purpose. 
The regulation meals were coffee and bread for breakfast ; 
meat and potatoes for dinner, with soup or pudding once or 
twice a week ; tea and bread for tea. If a man wished to 
have supper or something besides dry bread for breakfast 
and tea he had to purchase it from the barrack hawkers or 
canteen. Putting the cost of this at 4^d. a day, he thus 
had to expend a total of eightpence a day on his food, 
besides which he was subjected to a further daily charge of 
a penny for washing. This left him fivepence a day or 
about three shillings a week, and even this was not all 
clear pocket-money, for after the first free issue he had to 
keep up the whole of his underclothing as well as many 
articles of uniform, and also supply himself with cleaning 



KIT AND UNIFORM 5 

materials, such as polishing paste for brasses, oil for steel 
equipment, and soft-soap for saddlery. 

A beneficent regulation, recognising these drains on the 
unfortunate man's pay, laid down that in no case should 
he receive less than a penny a day ! In my regiment the 
custom was never to give less than a shilling a week, but 
even this sum did not go far to supplement the allowance 
of food, to say nothing of beer and tobacco. The Govern- 
ment now provides ample food, practically all clothing, and 
the amount of pay actually received is five or six times 
greater than it used to be. 

The '* kit " with which I was issued free of cost consisted 
of a valise, stable-bag, hold-all (containing knife, fork, spoon, 
razor and comb, shaving, hair, lace, button, clothes and 
boot brushes), three baggage straps, tin of oil, tin of blacking, 
tin of brass paste, cloak, cape, lance-cap and plume, two 
forage caps, tunic, jacket, overalls (trousers), pantaloons, 
canvas ducks, jack-boots and spurs, WeUington boots and 
spurs, ankle-boots, braces, three shirts, three pairs of socks, 
two pairs of pants, two towels, and a piece of soap. 
Finally, I was given a lance, sword, pistol, cartridge-case, 
cap-case, and numerous belts — an amount of armament that 
completely staggered me. 

Uniform was of a very impractical kind, especially the 
undress part of it. This comprised skin-tight overalls, an 
equadly tight " sheU-jacket " cut off short above the hips, 
and a forage cap of about the size of a breakfast saucer, 
and kept in its place immediately above the right ear by a 
narrow chin-strap worn under the lower hp (never under 
the chin in the cavalry, except on mounted parades). 
There were no " British- warms " or woollen " jumpers '' as 
to-day, and cloaks were not allowed to be worn when off 
duty without a regimental order to that effect. This order 
was never given except when the weather was very inclement. 
Later on the forage cap became a " free issue," and was 
thoroughly disliked by everybody because of its ugly shape 
and abnormally large size as compared with the regimental 
pattern. 

The first occasion on which it was worn by the regiment 
was at an inspection by the Duke of Cambridge at York in 



6 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

1881, when an unofficial hint was sent round the barrack- 
rooms beforehand that it was to be put well on the top of the 
head, and generally made to appear as hideous as possible. 
Every one did his best, or rather his worst, to comply with 
the hint, and when the Duke — ^never in too good a temper 
early in the day — came on parade, the sight of the dis- 
figured regiment nearly gave him a fit. It was alleged that 
he went back to the Horse Guards and wrote a furious letter 
to the War Office condemning the cap, but it remained the 
regulation article for some years afterwards, although the 
original pattern was stiU allowed to be worn off parade, and 
at the expense of the owner. 

The cavalry recruit was kept hard at work, riding- drill, 
stables, foot-drill, gjonnastics, and school following each 
other in bewildering fashion from six in the morning till 
six in the evening, without any appreciable interval for rest. 
Riding-school was the terror of most recruits, few of whom 
had ever before been across a horse. For some weeks no 
saddle was allowed, no stirrups for some months, and the 
chief aim of the instructor, or " rough-rider," was not to 
give his pupil confidence but as many falls as possible. 
The " rough-rider " deserved his name, for he was as rough 
with a young horse as with a young recruit. He seldom 
possessed a decent pair of hands, and his system of training 
a horse was of the break-down rather than the break-in 
type. These unintelligent methods have long since passed 
into oblivion. 

Gymnastics, or physical exercises, were conducted on 
much the same lines. Every recruit was expected to do 
the same thing in an equally proficient way, no allowance 
being made for differences in age, build, or general physical 
capacity. 

A robust constitution was required in winter to with- 
stand the cold and draughty stables and the biting winds 
which swept across the barrack square during foot-drill, 
where the shivering recruit would struggle to grasp the 
explanations of drill gabbled out by his instructor, and 
painfully endeavour to master the mysteries of the " goose- 
step " and the art of drawing swords " by numbers." I 
succumbed twice during my first winter, once being in 



TREATMENT OF SICK 7 

hospital for two months with rheumatic fever brought on 
by exposure. 

When a man " reported sick " he was marched at about 
nine o'clock in the morning to the medical inspection room 
of his regiment, and after waiting about in all weathers for 
an indefinite time was seen by a medical officer. If con- 
sidered a case for admission he was given an aperient, 
whether he wanted it or not, in the shape of half-a-pint of 
vile-tasting Hquid known as " black-strap." He was next 
marched off to hospital, which might be anything up to a 
mile or more away, and there he was interviewed by another 
doctor before being " admitted " to hospital. Next he was 
told off to a ward, where he might hope to arrive about 
mid- day, after having been on the move for some three or 
four hours. In the afternoon he would put on his hospital 
clothing, give his own into store, and lie down to await the 
visit of the medical officer in charge of the ward on the 
following morning. He was then again examined, treat- 
ment was prescribed, and if all went well he received it 
during the afternoon, or some thirty hours after he first set 
out from his barrack-room. 

Accidents and other special cases would be dealt with 
more or less immediately, but ordinary medical cases 
dawdled on in the manner I have described, greatly to the 
discomfort of the patient and sometimes at the risk of his 
fife. There was no nursing service, at any rate in the 
hospitals I had the misfortune to visit. Nursing and 
dressing were the duty of the " orderly " of the ward, and 
this individual was apt to regulate the amount of attention 
he gave to his patients by the amount of tips they gave 
to him. 

Permission to be out of barracks after " watch-setting '* 
— ^half-past nine at night — ^was sparingly granted, and all- 
night passes were practically never given. The " roll '.' 
was called at watch-setting, when every man not on leave 
had to answer his name, and to make sure that none went 
out afterwards one and sometimes two " check " roll-calls 
were made by the orderly sergeant-major at uncertain hours 
during the night. Each orderly-sergeant handed in at 
watch-setting a statement showing the number of men 



8 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

sleeping in each of his troop rooms, and equipped with this 
the orderly sergeant-major, accompanied by the corporal 
of the guard, visited the rooms and counted the sleeping 
occupants. It was a favourite device of absentees, before 
going out, to fold up their bed as in day-time, so that the 
visiting sergeant-major might perhaps not notice their 
absence ; while others would try to deceive him by leaving 
a made-up dummy in their beds. " Breaking-out of 
barracks " was the crime, and twenty-eight days' confine- 
ment to barracks was usually the pimishment, for this form 
of absence. 

To " break out " of barracks was a simple matter at 
Aldershot, for although the gates at the end of them were 
kept locked after watch-setting, and had high walls on 
either side, an unenclosed pubhc road ran along the front 
which was accessible to everybody. This was not the case 
with all barracks, most of them being surrounded by high 
walls, topped with broken glass. When we were at Brighton, 
where the walls were of this kind, an amusing incident 
occurred in connection with a man who was trying to get 
back again after successfully breaking out. Not being 
able to scale the waUs, he hit on the idea of returning in 
an officer's brougham, which was being brought back to 
barracks by a friendly coachman after depositing the 
officer and his wife at their house in the town. Unfor- 
tunately the mihtary police sergeant looked inside the 
brougham before allowing it to leave the barrack gate, 
and the offender accordingly found himself in a worse 
predicament at orderly room next morning than if he had 
walked into barracks and surrendered. 

Of all days of the week Sunday was the most hated — a 
sad confession to make, but none the less true. After 
morning stables there was a general rush, often with httle 
or no time for breakfast, to turn out in " full dress " for 
*' divine service " — attendance at which was compulsory. On 
return to barracks there was another scramble preparatory 
to the commanding officer's inspection of stables, horses, 
saddlery, and barrack-rooms. From early morning till 
half-past one in the afternoon there was more work to be 
done, more grumbling and swearing, and more fault-finding 



DIVINE SERVICE 9 

than on any other day, all of which could have been avoided 
had the inspections been carried out on a week-day. The 
reason they were made on Sunday was certainly not because 
there was no time for them on other days. The real reason 
probably was that Sunday was the most convenient day for 
the officers, as it left them greater leisure to follow their 
social and sporting pursuits during the week. It was only 
natural that the men should resent being hustled about and 
made to do unnecessary work on the one day of the week 
observed by everybody else in the country as a day of 
rest. 

Divine service was not held for all denominations at 
the same time, but at hours suitable to local facihties. It 
might be at any time between eight o'clock and noon, and 
therefore it was not uncommon for men, on moving to a 
new station, to ask to change their religion if by so doing 
they would attend church or chapel at such an hour as 
would enable them to escape from the detested inspections. 
Many amusing stories are told about these changes, one being 
of a man who asked his sergeant-major to enter him in the 
books as belonging to the '* Pl5miouth Brethren." He was 
promptly told that no such reHgion was officially recognised, 
and that he would be put down as a Roman CathoUc ! 

On Christmas Day, 1877, I was detailed for my first 
military " duty," that of stable-guard or looking after the 
troop-horses out of stable-hours. The custom was to employ 
the most recently joined recruits on this particular day, so 
that the old soldiers might be free to make the most of their 
Christmas dinner, which was provided by the officer com- 
manding the troop, and included a variety of eatables never 
seen on any other day, as well as a liberal supply of beer. 
The casks containing the beer were brought some time 
before to the barrack-room where the dinner was to be held, 
and were there placed under charge of a man who could be 
depended upon to see that they were not broached before 
the appointed hour. Had this happened — as it sometimes 
did — rather awkward incidents might have occurred when 
the officers visited the room just previous to the dinner to 
wish the men a merry Christmas and to receive similar 
wishes in return. If any individual did, by some means or 



10 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

other, contrive to start his festivities too early, efforts were 
made to keep him in the background until the officers had 

left. 

It was the practice to see that all members of the 
troop who were absent on duty should be specially weU- 
cared for, and in my case the dinner brought to the 
stable consisted of a huge plateful of miscellaneous food 
— beef, goose, ham, vegetables, plum - pudding, blanc- 
mange — ^plus a basin of beer, a packet of tobacco, and a 
new clay pipe ! 

At night the horses were looked after by a " night guard,*' 
which paraded about five or six o'clock in the evening and 
came off duty at reveille on the following morning. It was 
mainly composed of recruits and other men who were 
required to attend training or do other work during the 
day-time. The chief duties of a " sentry '* of the night 
guard were to perambulate outside the stables, tie up any 
horse that might get loose (some of the old troop-horses 
were extraordinarily clever at shpping their head coUars 
and finding their way to the corn-bin), see that the doors 
were kept closed, and, in the phraseology of the " orders," 
" call the corporal of the guard in the event of fire or other 
unusual occurrence." The sentry was armed with either a 
sword or a carbine (no ammunition), though what assistance 
he was supposed to derive therefrom in the performance of 
his duties no one ever understood. 

The nights were sometimes intensely cold and always 
interminably long, although the two hours " on " sentry 
were followed by four hours " off," and to the tired recruit 
the bales of forage offered tempting resting-places. That 
way lay danger if not disaster, for once he succumbed to 
the temptation to sit down it was a hundred to one that he 
would fall asleep, and if he did he might wake up to find 
himself confronted by an officer or non-commissioned 
ofiicer going the " rounds," with the result that he would 
be made prisoner and tried by court-martial. The pimish- 
ment for this crime was invariably two months' imprison- 
ment, and although young soldiers must be made to realise 
their responsibilities when on sentry, a little more considera- 
tion in dealing with tired lads not yet out of their teens 



THE GUARD-ROOM ii 

would not have been misplaced. I have known more than 
one lad ruined for life because of undue severity of punish- 
ment for a first offence. 

Forty years ago every offence, however trivial, was 
classed as a " crime,*' and the " prisoner " was interned in 
the " guard-room." The latter, in the case of the cavalry 
barracks at Aldershot, was about fifteen feet square, indif- 
ferently ventilated, and with the most primitive arrange- 
ments for sanitation. No means of lighting it after dark 
were either provided or permitted. Running along one of 
its sides was a sloping wooden stage, measuring about six 
feet from top to bottom, which served as a bed for all 
the occupants, sometimes a dozen or more in number ; 
at the top was a wooden shelf, slightly raised above the 
level of the stage, which acted as pillow ; and no blankets 
(except in very cold weather) or mattresses were allowed, 
except for prisoners who had been interned for more than 
seven days. Until then their only covering, besides their 
ordinary clothes — ^which were never taken off — consisted of 
their cloaks, and they had to endure as best they could the 
sore hips and shoulders caused by lying on the hard boards. 
I shall describe presently how I once came to be incarcerated 
in this horrible place for a period of three weeks, and 
will only say here that I was exceedingly glad when the 
first seven days were completed. 

A prisoner charged with committing an offence was kept 
in the guard- room until he could be brought before the 
commanding of&cer, no other officer in the regiment having 
power to dispose of his case, and if he were remanded for a 
coiut-martial, as he not infrequently was, he might be 
interned for several days before his trial took place. In 
the meantime he would have for company all classes of 
prisoners thrust into the room at any hour of the day or 
night, some for drunkenness, some for desertion, some for 
insubordination, and some for no offence at all which 
merited confinement. This was not a healthy atmosphere 
in which to bring up young soldiers, to many of whom the 
shady side of life was as yet unknown, and, as will be shown 
later, a more sensible and humane system was eventually 
adopted. It should not be forgotten that these harsh and 



12 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

short-sighted methods were more or less common to the 
age, and were not confined to the army. 

The " Articles of War," based on the " Miitmy Act," 
constituted the law which then governed the soldier. The 
Articles contained a list of all military offences, with their 
punishments, and were read out to the men once a month 
after " muster parade." Originally — they dated back a 
long time — they were of excessive severity, inflicting death 
or loss of limb for almost every crime. They were not much 
more lenient in my early days from what I can remember 
of them, the termination of most of them being to the effect 
that " any soldier committing this offence shaU, on conviction 
by court-martial, be liable to suffer death or such less 
punishment as may be awarded." In 1879 the Articles of 
War and the Mutiny Act were consolidated in the " Army 
Discipline and Regulations Act." This was repealed in 
1881 and re-enacted with some amendments in the present 
Army Act, which is brought into operation annually by 
another Act of Parliament. 

" Muster parade," I may explain, was held on the last 
day of each month, and was the only parade at which every 
officer and man had to be present. The paymaster was 
the important person, as he had to satisfy himself that 
every one for whom he had issued pay was actually serving 
in the regiment. It appears to have been a relic of the days 
when commanding officers received a lump sum of money 
for a given number of men, and could not be trusted to 
have that number in the regiment. 

A man sentenced to undergo imprisonment, even if for 
some such short period as forty-eight hours, had his hair 
closely cropped off, and was thus made to look like a 
convict for several weeks after his discharge. *' Confinement 
to barracks " included " punishment drill " for four separate 
hours each day except Sunday, and this again seemed to 
have been designed to destroy any shred of self-respect the 
unfortunate defaulter might possess. The " drill " con- 
sisted in being turned and twisted about on the barrack 
square, in quick time and with only a few short pauses 
during the hour, the men carrying their fuU kit, strapped on 
their shoulders, besides the lance and sword — a total weight 



A TRAINED SOLDIER 13 

of some 40 or 50 lbs. The drill could be made, and fre- 
quently was, according to the fancy of the sergeant in charge, 
extremely exasperating and fatiguing, and in order to escape 
from such degrading drudgery men would sometimes 
deliberately commit a second and more serious offence so 
as to be sent to prison. In the cavalry it was not feasible, 
as in the infantry, to spare the men for four hours a day 
from their other duties, and as a rule the punishment took 
the form of one hour's drill and one or two of emplo5anent 
on " fatigue duties.'* 

In August 1878 — or about nine months after joining — 
I was " dismissed " recruit-drill, this being the length of 
time usually taken to become classified as a trained cavalry 
soldier. The recruit training included a " course " of 
musketry of about three weeks' duration, most of the time 
being devoted to the deadly dull exercise known as " bob 
and joe " — the bringing of the carbine from the " ready " 
to the " present " and vice versa. Forty rounds of ball 
ammunition, no more and no less, regardless of require- 
ments, were allowed for each and every recruit to make 
himself a proficient shot. The result was that not one in 
twenty was proficient, or anything like it. I remember 
that I carried off the prize for the best shot of my batch, 
the prize being three shillings ! 

As a trained soldier I now became available for " day- 
guard," which furnished the fuU-dress sentry on the barrack 
gate and was responsible for the safe custody of the 
prisoners in the guard-room. It was composed of a corporal, 
a trumpeter, and five men, and was paraded for inspection 
by the regimental sergeant-major. The parade of this 
guard was one of the chief events of the day, for from 
amongst the five men the sergeant-major selected the two 
whom he thought to be the smartest and best turned out 
to act as " orderlies " to the commanding officer and adjutant. 
To be thus selected was the ambition of the whole five, for 
while the three had turn about to spend the next twenty- 
four hours on sentry on the barrack gate, the chosen two 
passed their night in bed and had little to do during the day. 
I was lucky enough to be selected at my first two attempts, 
though I was not equally fortunate on all other occasions. 



14 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Being considered, I suppose, to be a promising and 
trustworthy lad, I was detailed in the simimer of 1878, in 
company with another man and a corporal, to form the 
" escort " for bringing back from London a notorious 
deserter who had been arrested there by the civil police. 
He had been a burglar by profession before becoming a 
soldier, and notwithstanding the size of the escort he 
managed, with the assistance of some of his friends who 
appeared on the scene, and favoured by darkness, to make 
his escape while we were passing through the purlieus 
adjacent to Waterloo station. Crestfallen, we returned to 
Aldershot minus our prisoner. The corporal was at once 
placed " in arrest," whilst I and my companion were con- 
signed to the guard-room, there to await trial by court- 
martial, and in all probability to be sentenced to not less 
than six months' imprisonment. At the end of three weeks 
the General commanding the Cavalry Brigade exercised, as 
I thought and still think, a sensible discretion by releasing 
us. Had he brought us to trial, the chances are that I would 
have followed in the steps of many another soldier of those 
days and have become a hardened offender against military 
law, a disgrace to myself, and a burden to the country. 

This was my first " crime," and the second followed a 
week or two later. It consisted in allowing a led horse to 
break loose at exercise, and for this I was duly *' repri- 
manded " by the commanding officer (Whigham) and 
warned that stem punishment would be meted out the 
next time I misbehaved. My future prospects were there- 
fore beginning to appear somewhat gloomy, but thanks to 
the good sense of Graham, my troop commander, neither 
of the two offences were allowed to count seriously against 
me. He realised that such neglect as there might have 
been was attributable to nothing worse than youthful 
inexperience, and early in 1879 he took advantage of the 
temporary absence of the colonel to recommend me to the 
acting commandiQg officer for promotion to lance-corporal, 
thus obtaining for me the first step towards the rank of 
Field- Marshal. 

Mihtary training lagged far behind, notwithstanding the 
many lessons furnished by the Franco-German War of 1870, 



PIPE-CLAY 15 

and was still mainly based on the system inherited from the 
Peninsula and Crimean campaigns. Pipe-clay, antiquated 
and useless forms of drill, blind obedience to orders, ramrod- 
like rigidity on parade, and similar time-honoured practices 
were the chief qualifications by which a regiment was 
judged. Very few officers had any ambition beyond 
regimental promotion. " Squadron leader '* was a name 
and not a reality, for beyond commanding it on parade 
this officer had no responsibility or duty of any kind 
connected with the squadron as such. In all other respects 
each of the two troops which then formed a squadron was 
a separate and independent imit, the troop commander 
being subordinate only to the regimental commanding 
officer. Once a week or so the latter held his " field-day," 
when the regiment as a whole attended parade and spent 
the greater part of two or three hours in carrying out a 
series of compHcated drill-book movements : equally good 
results could have been secured in half the time, and with 
half the expenditure of horse-flesh and strong language. 
For the remainder of the week training, as understood in 
those days, was the preserve of the adjutant, whose parades 
were attended only by those officers who were junior to him 
in rank, and by a comparatively small proportion of the men. 
For the drill of recniits on foot the adjutant was also 
responsible, and in riding driU the ridingmaster was supreme. 
Troop officers had no responsibiUty for either one or the 
other. 

As already mentioned. Lancer regiments carried sword, 
lance, and a muzzle-loading horse-pistol, and about half-a- 
dozen men in each troop, known as scouts or skirmishers, 
had a carbine as well. They had a very sketchy knowledge 
of the use of this weapon and, like every one else, but a 
hazy idea of either scouting or skirmishing. Later, carbines 
were issued to aU men, and the horse-pistols were with- 
drawn ; but for some years musketry was universally hated 
and deemed to be a degradation and a bore. In no case 
could it have been made of much value, since the annual 
allowance of ammunition was fixed at forty rounds a man, 
and thirty rounds of these were fired at distances between 
500 and 800 yards. 



i6 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Manceuvres as practised in more recent years were 
practically unknown, though there was a legend amongst 
the old soldiers that they had taken place at Cannock Chase 
some years before I joined. The nearest approach to them 
was the " field-day " held, perhaps half-a-dozen times during 
the year, by the Generals in command of the larger stations, 
or by the Commander-in-Chief, the Duke of Cambridge. 
The first one I attended was held on the ground at the back 
of the Staff College, the whole of the Aldershot garrison- 
about a division — taking part in it. I remember that 
towards the end of the battle — a field-day always entailed 
a " battle " — ^my squadron was ordered to charge a battaUon 
of the opposing infantry. Down came our lances to the 
" engage," the " charge " was sounded, and off we went at 
full speed, regardless of everything except the desire to 
make a brave show worthy of our regimental predecessors 
who had delivered the immortal charge at Aliwal some 
thirty odd years before. The enemy received us in square, 
with fixed bayonets, front rank kneeling and rear rank 
standing, the orthodox method of dealing with a cavalry 
charge. Finding our opponents too strong — or for some 
other reason — the order was given, " troops right-about 
wheel," and so near were we that, in wheeling, the outer 
flank was carried on to the infantry and one of the horses 
received a bayonet in his chest. Being too seriously injured 
to live he was shot, but in other respects we were congratu- 
lated on having accompHshed a fine performance. No doubt 
it was magnificent, but it was not the way to fight against 
men armed with rifles. 

These defective methods of training in general were due 
in a large measure to the system of voluntary enlistment, 
under which recruits were received in driblets throughout 
the year, and, more especially perhaps, to the fact that the 
four different arms were kept severely apart from each other. 
Cavalry training was the business of the Inspector- General 
of Cavalry at the Horse Guards, the local General having 
little or no say in the matter. Artillery were mainly 
stationed at Woolwich and engineer units at Chatham, each 
having, hke the cavalry, its own special Generals and staffs 
and its special representatives at the Horse Guards. Com- 



yi 



THE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE 17 

bined training of the different arms, without which it is 
nonsense to expect intelligent co-operation in war, was 
therefore impossible. 

There may have been, and probably were, other 
obstacles in the way of improvement, but one would think 
that most of them could have been surmounted, given more 
impetus from the top. It was not forthcoming, and for 
this the Duke of Cambridge, Commander-in-Chief from 
1856 to 1895 (thirty-nine years), must be held accountable. 
He was a good friend of the soldier and extremely popular 
with all ranks in the army, but he was extraordinarily 
conservative in his ideas on the training and education of 
both officers and men. He seems to have believed, quite 
honestly, that the army as he had found it, created by such 
a master of war as the Duke of Welhngton, must be the 
best for all time, and he had not realised the changes 
which had since taken place in the armies of Europe. I 
have been told that he once took the chair at a lecture 
given to officers of the Aldershot garrison on the subject 
of foreign cavalry, when he proved to be a veritable Balaam 
in commending the lecturer to the audience. " Why should 
we want to know anything about foreign cavalry ? '' he 
asked. " We have better cavalry of our own. I fear, 
gentlemen, that the army is in danger of becoming a mere 
debating society." 

Many of the younger generation of officers were fully 
alive to the fact that better organisation, education, and 
training were necessary, the most notable amongst them 
being Lord Wolseley, the best- read soldier of his time. 
From 1882 onwards he was the moving spirit in the path 
of progress, and thanks to his energy and initiative, and to 
the support he received from Sir Evelyn Wood and other 
keen-sighted soldiers, apathy and idleness began to go out 
of fashion, and hard work became the rule ; study was 
no longer considered to be " bad form," but a duty and an 
essential step to advancement ; hunting on six days of 
the week was no longer admitted to be the only training 
required by a cavalry leader ; and in general the profes- 
sional qualifications of our regimental officers began to reach 
a much higher standard. I shall refer to this matter again, 

c 



i8 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

when describing my experiences at Aldershot some thirty 
years later. 

Before leaving the subject of training, I may mention 
that once a year the non-commissioned officers and men of 
each troop had to compete between themselves for classifica- 
tion in the use of the sword and lance, the troop-winners 
then fighting off for the regimental prize. When first 
introduced, rather crude notions prevailed as to how the 
competition should be carried out, and it was the custom 
to place the two adversaries at opposite ends of the riding- 
school, give the order to attack, and then leave them to 
charge down on each other at full speed much in the same 
way as the picture-books represent the tournaments of 
centuries ago. With the single-stick used as a sword not 
much damage could be done ; but with a stout ash pole 
nine feet in length representing the lance the case was 
different. For the rider and his horse to be ridden down or 
rolled over was a common occurrence, and it was seldom 
that one or more of the competitors was not carried off to 
hospital, especially if the competition happened to follow 
pay-day. This rough business had its value as it taught 
the men how to defend themselves ; and incidentally it 
afforded a certain class of individual an opportimity for 
pa5dng off old scores against any non-commissioned officer 
against whom he had a grudge. To him it was a matter 
of indifference what the umpire's decision might be, provided 
he " got one in " against the object of his resentment. When 
I became sergeant, and subsequently troop sergeant-major, I 
had occasionally to deal with attacks of this kind, but being 
careful at all times to keep fit in wind and limb by constant 
practice with foils and single-sticks, and by taking regular 
running exercise, I was capable of giving back quite as good 
as I received. My most successful year was, I think, 1886, 
when I was lucky enough to secure all the first prizes in the 
troop — sword, lance, and shooting — but pride had its usual 
fall (Uterally) when, as troop-winner, I fought for the 
regimental prize and, with my horse, was bundled head over 
heels by a better man. 



CHAPTER II 

NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICER 

loted Corporal — Stationed at Brighton — My third and last " crime " — 
Special duty at Chatham — Rejoin regiment and go to York — 
Promoted Lance-Sergeant — Special duties while at York — Musketry 
course at Hythe — Promoted Sergeant — SignalHng course at Alder- 
shot — Regiment goes to Dundalk — State of Ireland — Appointed 
Assistant Instructor of Signalling — Lieutenant Dugdale — Success of 
signallers announced in regimental orders — Assistant Instructor 
of Musketry and Military Reconnaissance — Escort prisoners to 
Limerick Gaol — Regiment goes to Dubhn — Promoted Troop 
Sergeant-Major — Suicide of predecessor — Influence of Troop 
Sergeant-Major — Consider possibihty of obtaining commission — 
Dif&culties in the way of this — Regimental of&cer's expenses — 
Decline Commanding Of&cer's offer of a commission — Accept the 
same offer made by his successor — Vexatious delays retard com- 
mission — Pass examination for commission — Regiment goes to 
Aldershot — Gazetted Second Lieutenant in 3rd Dragoon Guards — 
Leave the i6th Lancers. 

April 1879, or about a year and a half after en- 
ng, I was promoted full corporal. This was, for the 
J, almost unprecedented rapidity of advancement in the 
dry, and it entailed my transfer to another troop under 
jr superiors having other ways. Shortly afterwards the 
ment was ordered to Brighton — a four days' march — 
I was selected to go on ahead in charge of the billeting 
y to arrange for the accommodation of the men and 
,es of the troop at the various halting-places. It was 
lis way that I gained my first experience in those duties 
•uartermaster- General which were to devolve upon me in 
Great War. 

iVhilst at Brighton I committed my third and last 
ime." I had been detailed with two men to act as 
rt to Major-General Newdigate, under whose command 
e Volunteer battaHons were having a field-day, or 

19 



20 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

'* sham-fight " as the phrase went, on Brighton Downs, 
The day was observed as a holiday in the neighbourhood, 
and the hoUday-makers, with the best of intentions, insisted 
upon offering more free drinks to my two men than were 
good for them. As I failed to keep a sufficiently sharp eye 
on them one of the two yielded to the temptation, and 
on the way home parted company with his horse, which 
galloped riderless back to barracks where it was seen arriving 
by the regimental sergeant-major. The man himself was 
picked up in the street helplessly drunk, and I, the responsible 
party, was placed " in arrest." (I may remind the reader 
that I was still in my teens.) 

I had a very unpleasant interview with the commanding 
officer, Whigham, next morning at orderly room. Looking 
at the record of my two previous crimes as given in the 
" defaulters' book," he fiercely remarked, " First you allow 
a man to escape ; then you allow a horse to escape ; now 
you allow both a man and a horse to break loose. You are 
' severely reprimanded,' and if you ever come before me 
again I will reduce you to the ranks." I knew that his 
bark was sometimes worse than his bite, but I also felt that 
he might be as good as his word, and that it behoved me to 
be more strict in future in supervising the men under my 
control. This was well rubbed into me later by the sergeant- 
major, a non-commissioned ofiicer of the best type and for 
whose advice I always had the greatest respect. 

A few years later the troop defaulters' book containing a 
list of my offences was either lost or wilfully destroyed. No 
one was able to discover what had become of it. The 
offences, not being of a serious nature, had not been recorded 
in the regimental defaulters' book, or anywhere else except 
in the missing book, and therefore I was necessarily given, 
as were all other men similarly situated, a clean sheet in the 
new book. It remained without an entry throughout my 
future service in the ranks. 

Apparently my latest dereliction of duty was not deemed 
to be very heinous, for a few months after it occurred I was 
one of two non-commissioned officers in the regiment 
recommended to go through a twelve months' course at the, 
riding estabhshment at Canterbury, in order to quaUfy 



SIR EVELYN WOOD 21 

for the post of ridingmaster. The final decision rested, of 
course, with the commanding officer, and he selected the 
other man. I was not sorry, as I had neither the desire nor 
natural ability to become an expert in equitation. 

A more congenial post was given me in the summer of 
1879, when I was ordered one day, on return to barracks 
from a long morning's drill on the Downs, to parade in 
*' marching order " by three o'clock to proceed to Chatham 
in charge of three men detailed as mounted orderlies at the 
headquarters of the Chatham district. It was already past 
noon, but by the appointed hour my detachment was on 
parade, and we pushed on as quickly as our tired horses 
would permit, passing through Lewes and Uckfield, and 
reaching our first halting-place, Maresfield, about half-past 
seven in the evening. The only available accommodation 
was a small farmstead occupied by an irascible old lady who 
flatly refused to have anything to do with us, and conse- 
quently I had to ride on for another two miles to a police 
station and obtain the requisite authority compelling her 
to take us in. This brought her to her senses, and by the 
time we had groomed our horses and made them comfortable 
for the night, about ten o'clock, she had prepared for us 
an excellent supper to which we did full justice, having 
had no food since our meagre breakfast at seven o'clock 
in the morning. 

Next day we made Tonbridge, where we were fortunate 
in at once securing good billets, gooseberry pudding being 
a highly-appreciated feature of the menu. The local 
members of the Kent Yeomanry showed us welcome hos- 
pitality in the evening. 

The following day we reached Chatham, wet to the skin, 
and were attached to a company of the army service corps 
for quarters and rations. It was at Chatham, while holding 
this, my first independent command, that I made the 
acquaintance of the late Sir Evelyn Wood. 

The views I held about my mission are shown in a letter 
I wrote home : 

Taking all things into consideration it is good to have been 
selected for this work, as I am in sole charge and no one wiU 
interfere with me so long as the men turn out clean and smart 



22 



FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 



when on duty and keep steady. I need hardly say that we were 
all picked out as likely to be a credit to the regiment to which we 
belong. I hope we shall be, as my Captain told me when starting 
that he would keep up a correspondence with the General Com- 
manding (Sir Evelyn Wood, now in Africa with the French 
Empress) and will hear how I get on, and that if all goes correct 
he will, on my return, do his best for me. 

He was a sensible officer this captain — I forget his name 
— ^to impress upon me, a young lad, the importance of 
keeping up the good name of the regiment, and I may add 
that on completion of the duty, about eight months later, 
the commanding officer received from the Chatham head- 
quarters an official letter which was highly complimentary 
to myself and my men. 

The regiment had meantime moved from Brighton to 
Woolwich, and the circumstances in which I rejoined it 
from Chatham will best be described by quoting from another 
letter : 

Cock Hotel, Ware, Hertfordshire, 
Sunday, 20.2.'8i. 

Last Wednesday about six p.m. I was sent for by the Brigade 
Major, and told to have myself and men ready by nine a.m. next 
morning to rejoin the regiment. That was aU I could get to 
know. Next morning we left Chatham and covered the twenty- 
six miles to Woolwich in about four hours, finding out on arrival 
there that next day we would commence our journey to York, 
there to remain until further orders. On the first day we passed 
through Greenwich, Blackheath and Lewisham, over London 
Bridge, through the city, Islington, Shoreditch and on to 
Edmonton, eighteen miles. Yesterday we arrived at Ware, 
sixteen miles, where we halted for Sunday. The following shows 



; Irom here to York : 
Monday 


Royston. 


Tuesday 


Huntingdon. 


Wednesday . 


Peterborough. 


Thursday 


Bourne. 


Friday 


Grantham. 


Saturday \ 
Sunday j 


Newark. 


Monday 


Retford. 


Tuesday 


Doncaster. 


Wednesday . 


Pontefract. 


Thursday 


York. 



y 



PROMOTED SERGEANT 23 

I remember that the winter was exceptionally severe, 
and that we had to lead our horses for a great part of the 
way, owing to the frozen and slippery state of the snow- 
covered gromid. 

Soon after arrival at York I was promoted lance-sergeant 
(or provisional sergeant), thus becoming a member of the 
sergeants' mess and terminating my barrack-room life with 
the men. 

As sergeant, my horse, saddlery, and accoutrements 
were cleaned by a batman, who received six shillings a 
month from government for the additional work, as well 
as certain indulgences granted by his master. This was a 
welcome change, for there was no harder animal in the world 
to groom than a troop horse in winter, when, no part of 
him being clipped, his hair would be inches in length, and 
in spite of rubbing would remain wet from mud or perspira- 
tion for hours, and until he was dry the rubbing had to be 
continued. In winter, too, many men would be absent on 
furlough, which meant that two and sometimes three horses 
fell to the lot of each man present at stables. 

After being employed for some weeks on mounted duty 
at the headquarters of the York district, I was placed in 
charge of the regimental remounts — about forty in number 
— and so occupied another semi-independent position. My 
selection for these different posts was probably due to the 
credit earned at Chatham. 

The following August I was sent to the school of musketry 
at Hythe to quahfy as assistant instructor of musketry. 
The curriculum was then about as unpractical and weari- 
some as it could well be, the greater part of the time — two 
months — ^being devoted to acquiring efficiency in repeating, 
parrot-like, the instructions laid down in the drill book. 
Little or no attention was paid to the art of shooting in the 
field, and the total amount of ball anamunition expended 
was restricted to the orthodox forty roimds per man. It 
was not tin some years later, under such commandants as 
Ian Hamilton and Monro, that a more inteUigent system, 
better suited to modern requirements, was introduced, and 
Hythe began to be a really useful institution. 

Both in going and returning I travelled between Hull 



24 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

and London by boat, making the journey at each end 
by rail. This may not seem a very expeditious route, nor 
was it. For instance, when returning from Hythe I had 
to spend a day in London waiting for a boat ; another two 
days were taken by the sea passage ; and as I arrived at 
Hull late on a Sunday I had to stay the night there before 
being able to get a train for York. To the financial mind, 
however, the itinerary was correct, for the travelling ex- 
penditure incurred was some pence, and perhaps even some 
shillings, less than it would have been had I travelled all 
the way by rail. 

January 1882 saw me promoted full sergeant, by far 
the youngest of that rank in the regiment, both in age and 
service, and this led to my transfer to another troop, " B," 
commanded by Major Garrett. He was a general favourite 
with his men, and I have pleasant recollections of my time 
under his command. 

In June I was deputed to go through a course of in- 
struction at the school of signalling at Aldershot. It was 
considerably more advanced in its methods than the Hythe 
establishment, but was nevertheless not as up-to-date as 
it should have been. 

Whilst I was at Aldershot the regiment moved from 
York to Ireland, headquarters and three troops going to 
Dundalk, and the remaining five troops to four other stations, 
of which Belfast was one. On completion of the signalling 
course I was ordered to join at Dundalk. 

Ireland was at this period, as at many other times in her 
history, suffering from the effects of being a political shuttle- 
cock, and the mdlitary were frequently called out to assist 
the police in the suppression of disorder. Evictions for 
non-payment of rent were the most common source of 
trouble, and some of them would be attended by thousands 
of sympathisers from the countryside, necessitating, in the 
opinion of the authorities, the presence of a considerable 
military force. I have known as much as a brigade of all 
arms employed on this duty, the evicted tenant being an 
old woman occupying a dilapidated hovel, and the unpaid 
rent amounting to a few shillings ! 

Having passed the examination at the signalling school, 



LIEUTENANT DUGDALE 25 

obtaining 282 marks out of a possible 300, I was made 
assistant instructor of the regimental signallers, whose 
standard was then very low. The annual inspection took 
place about two months later, and consequently there 
was not sufficient time to make much improvement. 
The regiment was reported as being only " fair," and 
it occupied 44th place in the army " order of merit." 
The inspecting officer was pleased, however, to classify 
the assistant instructor, myself, as " very good." The 
commanding officer, now Schwabe in place of Whigham, 
was bent on achieving much better results, and he gave 
Lieutenant Dugdale, the " instructor," and myself a free 
hand to do as we liked on the understanding that the 
necessary improvement should be made. In this we suc- 
ceeded at the next annual inspection, when the regiment 
took 12th place in the army and 3rd place in Ireland. In 
1884 we did still better, the regiment being first in Ireland 
and missing first in the army only by a decimal. I felt 
very proud of myself when the following appeared in 
regimental orders : 

Sir Thomas Steele, General Commanding the Forces in 
Ireland, has been pleased to express his intention of bringing at 
the first opportunity to the notice of H.R.H. the Field-Marshal 
Commanding-in-Chief, that the i6th Lancers have turned out the 
best squad of signallers in Ireland. The Commanding Officer 
wishes to express his sincere thanks to Lieutenant Dugdale, 
Sergeant Robertson, and the signallers for their exertion which 
has brought so much credit to the regiment. 

During our connection with signalling I formed a close 
friendship with Dugdale, which lasted until his death. I 
still have the case of pipes he gave me as a memento 
of our combined success ; the handful of cigars he gave 
me at the same time was consumed that evening in the 
sergeants' mess. He was a splendid athlete, handsome, 
generous to a fault, and beloved by all who knew him. His 
death from a virulent attack of influenza some years ago, 
with that of his wife from the same cause on the following 
day, came as a great shock to their numerous friends. He 
was married subsequent to our signalling days, and it so 
happened that one of his daughters was the wife of one 



26 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

of my pupils at the Staff CoUege some twenty-five years 
later. 

Besides the signalling duty I officiated as sergeant- 
instructor of musketry. This appointment, as well as that 
of instructor (always an officer), was abolished in 1883, the 
Adjutant- General of the day, Sir Garnet Wolseley, quite 
rightly holding troop officers responsible for the training of 
their men in this branch of their work as in all others, 
but as musketry was still to a great extent a sealed book 
to most cavalry officers I continued to exercise, under the 
adjutant, a general supervision over the musketry arrange- 
ments, to train the recruits, and to prepare the annual 
musketry returns. 

A third duty, which fell to me in the winter months, 
was that of assistant-instructor in sketching, map-reading, 
and other things coming under the heading of recon- 
naissance. Like most non-commissioned officers of the 
time I knew practically nothing about these subjects, but 
by reading such few books as existed — nearly aU of 
which made very intricate what was really quite simple — 
I learnt a certain amount which I passed on to the half- 
dozen members of the class. Eventually I picked up a 
good deal of useful knowledge which proved to be helpful 
later in Ufe when employed on intelHgence work in the field, 
but it was a slow and laborious business. Fortunately I 
was a fairly good draughtsman. For much of what I learnt 
I was indebted to Captain Lord St. Vincent, a keen and 
capable officer, who had recently come to us from the 
7th Hussars. He met his death in Egypt during the 
fighting of the 'eighties. 

Having these speciaHst duties to carry out I was 
" excused ** — as the phrase went — the ordinary troop and 
regimental duties of a sergeant, and on the whole had an 
interesting and pleasant time, for, as I wrote, " I have 
nothing else to do such as stables, guards, etc., have all 
Sunday to myself, and get up and go to bed when I like ! " 

Whilst at Dundalk I was given an opportunity of 
showing whether I had profited from my previous failures 
to look properly after men committed to my charge. I was 
ordered to conduct eleven men from the Belfast district 



ESCORT DUTY 27 

to Limerick gaol, where they were to undergo varying 

terms of imprisonment, some being of considerable length. 

My friend the regimental sergeant-major warned me that 

some of the prisoners were hardened criminals who might 

try to get away, and he reminded me of the deserter who 

had made his escape in London. The eleven prisoners 

were taken over at different railway stations en route to 

Limerick, and as I received them I handcuffed them and 

the four men of the escort together in one long string. This 

was not by any means a comfortable manner in which to 

make a railway journey extending over twelve hours, and 

some of the men begged that the handcuffs might be 

taken off, if only for a few minutes, so that they might 

rest their cramped and aching arms. I remained obdurate 

both to their entreaties and threats, and in due course 

they were safely dehvered over to the prison authorities. 

Ruthless as this treatment may seem, it was the only 

way in which I could make sure of carrying out my 

mission, and after having accompHshed it I proceeded to a 

sergeants' mess in the Limerick barracks, and there took 

part in a dance until reveille sounded the following morning. 

Having thus completed what I thought to be a very 

creditable trip, I returned to Dundalk and reported that the 

eleven prisoners had been duly lodged in gaol. The journey 

was not, however, an unqualified success, for I managed to 

lose the key of one pair of the handcuffs — a matter which 

entailed, to the annoyance of the commanding officer, a 

lengthy correspondence between the regiment and the 

ordnance office. It terminated by my being ordered to 

pay threepence to defray the loss of the key. How much 

money had meanwhile been expended on stamps and 

stationery I cannot say. 

At the end of February 1885 the regiment was suddenly 
ordered to move to Dublin (Island Bridge barracks) in reUef 
of the 5th Lancers despatched to the Sudan. No sooner 
had we arrived there than we were confined to barracks 
and aU leave was cancelled, owing to the demonstrations 
which were being held in Phoenix Park in sympathy with 
Mr. O'Brien, M.P., who had just been suspended in the 
House of Commons. 



28 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

A month later I was promoted troop sergeant-major of 
" E " troop. My predecessor had been a medical student 
before joining the army, and as he was well educated his 
prospects would have been good had he not been addicted to 
periodical spells of hard drinking. He had been promoted in 
the hope that his increased responsibilities might help to keep 
him straight, and he had promised to abstain from drink, but 
before many months had elapsed the troop accounts, for which 
he was answerable to his troop officer, were found to balance 
on the wrong side and he was accordingly ordered to revert 
to the rank of sergeant and to hand over his duties to me. 
I was directed to go to his quarters to discuss matters, and I 
there found him to be quite drunk and incapable of explaining 
anything. When his condition became known to higher 
authority he was placed '* in arrest " pending investigation 
by the commanding of&cer. 

Next day a troop sergeant-major went to escort him to 
the orderly room, and finding his door locked he came for 
me. We returned together, and on breaking open the door 
discovered that the poor fellow had shot himself a few 
minutes before. Apparently he had felt unable at the last 
moment to face the ruin and disgrace which confronted 
him, and a round of service ammimition and a carbine had 
done the rest. For several days I was kept busy in un- 
ravelling the tangle into which the accormts had been 
allowed to fall, but beyond neglect and carelessness there 
was nothing seriously wrong with them, the actual deficiency 
in money amounting only to thirty-five pounds. For this 
miserable sum drink had claimed its victim, whose fife, but 
for the one weakness, might have been so different. 

" Paddy " Malone, the commander of my new troop, was 
a splendid specimen of manhood both in build and character, 
standing a good six feet six inches in height and made in 
proportion. Wyndham Quinn and Dugdale were the two 
subalterns, and from all three I experienced nothing but 
kindness during the three years I was their troop sergeant- 
major. 

A troop sergeant-major occupies a position which enables 
him to exert, for good or for evil, great influence over his 
men. It is said that the non-commissioned ofiicer is the 



TROOP SERGEANT-MAJOR 29 

backbone of the army, but it is equally true that he can do 
much harm unless he is strictly impartial and identifies 
himself with the interests of his men. Although the " old 
soldier *' as I knew him eight years before was rapidly dis- 
appearing, a certain number still remained who, with some 
of the younger ones, required firm and tactful handling. 
In not a few cases the worst characters were the best work- 
men — that is, the best grooms and best riders — when money 
was scarce ; when it was plentiful they would fall under 
the spell of drink, and this would lead to absence, insubor- 
dination, and other military offences. Try as one might 
these men proved very hard to reform, and while I gained 
many gratif5dng successes I also had some failures in my 
efforts to make them see the folly of their ways. 

The fault lay not nearly so much with the men — ^who 
were good fellows at heart — as with the authorities who 
neglected to provide them with congenial means of recreation, 
to place greater trust in their self-respect, and generally to 
call forth the better part of their nature. With the intro- 
duction of comfortable regimental institutes ; the substi- 
tution, except when a really serious dereUction of duty 
had been committed, of " minor offences " for " crimes " ; 
the abolition of the practice of imprisoning all offenders in 
the guard-room no matter how trivial the offence ; greater 
Hberality in the granting of leave ; and the adoption all 
round of more intelHgent and sympathetic methods, a 
marked improvement in the behaviour of the men quickly 
followed, and their outlook on life automatically became 
quite different. 

For some years before going to DubHn I had cherished 
the hope of obtaining a commission, but at first there seemed 
no more chance of this hope being realised than of obtaining 
the moon. Apart from ridingmasters and quartermasters 
it was very seldom that any one was promoted from the 
ranks — ^not more than four or five a year on an average — 
and moreover the initial step lay with the commanding 
officer, a strong backing from whom was a sine qua non. 
Whigham was not friendly disposed towards me, and he 
happened to be, I think, one of those who held the view 
that promotion from the ranks was not to the benefit of 



30 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

either the man or the State. During his regime, therefore, 
nothing was or could be done. 

The idea of trying for a commission had originated 
with LesHe Melville, the rector of my native village. Both 
he and his wife had taken a kindly interest in me from 
early boyhood, and the lady, who had several relatives in 
the army, was particularly keen that I should make a 
name for myself. Some officers of the regiment, Dugdale 
more than any, gave me similar encouragement, and when 
Whigham was succeeded by Schwabe, and I had come to 
the front a httle as a result of the special duties I had 
been carrying out, my prospects seemed brighter. 

Setting to work more systematically and with greater 
confidence, I commenced to study for a " first class certificate 
of education," this quaUfication being necessary before I 
could be recommended for a commission. The certificate 
was duly secured in the autumn of 1883, and I then turned 
to the professional side, reading all the books on tactics, 
strategy, and past campaigns that I could lay hands on. 
They were few in number, as the regimental hbrary did 
not cater for this kind of study — or for any other for that 
matter — and I could not afford to purchase many books. 
The deficiency had to be made up by reading very carefully 
those that were available. The ordinary drill books I knew 
from A to Z. 

But there was another and much greater obstacle to be 
considered, about which I could not make up my mind for 
a long time. I had no private means, and without some 
£300 a year in addition to army pay it was impossible to 
live as an officer in a cavalry regiment at home. The infantry 
was less expensive, but I could not entertain the idea of 
leaving my old arm, the cavalry. 

The money difficulty did not arise in the case of the 
so-caUed " ranker " who sought a commission through the 
ranks because he could not, owing to lack of brains or 
industry, obtain one through Sandhurst or the mihtia. 
Such rankers as these usually possessed ample money, and, 
being backed by private influence, would be given their 
commission, if at all, a year or two after enlistment, and 
were then able to resume the social status which they had 



ON TAKING A COMMISSION 31 

temporarily laid down. The true ranker, having no influence 
behind him, had to toil for several years before receiving a 
commission, and even then the chances were that he would, 
owing to the want of private means, be miserable in himself 
and a nuisance to his brother officers. 

AU officers were, quite rightly, expected to live up to 
the standard of their regimental mess, and to bear a due 
share of the expenses — at some stations a very heavy item 
— incurred by the entertainment of mess guests, balls, race- 
meetings, and so forth. Considerable contributions had 
also to be made towards the upkeep of the regimental band, 
which was maintained only to a very Hmited extent from 
public funds. An absurd amount of costly uniform had to 
be purchased and constantly renewed, while chargers had 
to be paid for out of the officers' pockets, and had to be of 
first-class quality. A subaltern's pay was about £120 per 
annum. Ten years or more might elapse before Captain's 
rank was attained, and then the pay was less than £200 
per annum. 

It had hitherto been possible, as well as convenient, to 
find room in each regiment for at least one ranker by appoint- 
ing him adjutant, a post which he could hold for an in- 
definite time. This brought him useful pecuniary benefit, 
and by entrusting to him much of the elementary training 
of the men the other officers were able to enjoy increased 
facihties for leave. But this system was rapidly passing 
away. Troop and squadron officers were now being made 
reaUy responsible for the training and administration of 
their commands ; a higher degree of efficiency was being 
demanded ; and the post of adjutant, now limited to five 
years, was no longer regarded as the perquisite of the 
ranker, but was being eagerly sought after by all young 
officers who aspired to rise in their profession. 

It will be understood that in these circumstances the 
ranker was not as welcome to the officers of a regiment as 
before, and as the financial obstacle seemed insurmountable 
I decided that I must give up all idea of realising my 
ambition, and I did. 

The matter did not rest there for long, as one day in 
1884 Schwabe expressed the wish that I should take a 



32 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

commission as soon as possible. Not having previously 
mentioned the subject to me, his generous offer came as a 
complete surprise, and I again went over all the old ground, 
wondering whether I dare accept the offer or not. Event- 
ually, and with a sad heart, I reluctantly declined it, and I 
believe that Schwabe was as sorry as myself. He told me 
I was acting foohshly, and probably he was right. Soon 
afterwards he was succeeded in the command of the regiment 
by Colonel Maillard. 

Sticking to my studies in the hope that something might 
yet turn up to justify going back on the decision to which 
I had come, I became more and more devoted to a mihtary 
life and the old ambition soon reasserted itself. When, 
therefore, in 1886, Maillard made the same proposal as his 
predecessor had done, and appeared equally desirous that 
I should not refuse it, I determined to put aside my fears 
and take the risk of failure owing to lack of funds. He 
allayed my anxiety in this respect by promising to get me 
posted to a regiment in India if possible, where the pay would 
be higher and the expenses much lower than in England. 
Thus the die was cast. 

Before he could recommend me for a commission, how- 
ever, I had the mortification of having to undergo a further 
educational examination, the standard of the first class 
certificate having been raised since I took it three years 
earher. A few weeks' study overcame this stumbUng-block, 
and in April 1887 the recommendation was at last sent 
on its way to the Horse Guards. The reply came back in 
August that the outfit allowance of £150 granted to rankers 
on promotion could not be given me during the current 
financial year, as the Treasury allotment for that purpose 
had already been promised. I was given the choice of 
taking a commission without the allowance, and as I could 
not afford to do that the only alternative was to wait for 
still another year. 

These vexatious delays terminated early in February 
1888 when I appeared before a board of officers of the 4th 
Dragoon Guards at the Royal Barracks, Dublin, to be 
examined in the subjects qualifpng for promotion to Lieu- 
tenant. The examination was very simple and was passed 



GAZETTED SECOND LIEUTENANT 33 

almost as a matter of course, for it would have been an 
unforgivable breach of etiquette for officers of one regiment 
to plough a candidate sent up by another. 

In March my squadron was ordered to the Curragh, and 
a lew weeks later the whole regiment moved to Aldershot, 
where I had joined it as a recruit about ten and a half 
years before. On the 27th of June I was gazetted 2nd 
Lieutenant in the 3rd Dragoon Guards, then serving in 
India. 

It was with real regret, not unmixed with anxiety as 
to what the future had in store for me, that I parted company 
with my comrades of the sergeants' mess, where I had spent 
many pleasant hours. Maillard, who had always shown 
the most kindly interest in my welfare, presented me with 
a sword ; Dugdale insisted upon fitting me out with saddlery ; 
the members of the sergeants' mess gave me a silver-mounted 
dressing-case; and from many others in the regiment, 
officers and men, I received expressions of goodwill. The 
i6th Lancers had become a home to me, and I am proud to 
think that I once had the honour of serving in so distin- 
guished a regiment. 



CHAPTER III 

SUBALTERN IN INDIA 

Join Cavalry Depot at Canterbury — Officers' course of musketry at Hythe 
— ^Leave England for India — Life on board a troopship — Join 3rd 
Dragoon Guards — Camp of exercise at Meerut — Pass Lower 
Standard Examination in Hindustani — ^Life at Muttra — Acting 
Adjutant and Station Staff Officer — Beer-tasting committees — 
Regiment attends Muridki camp of exercise en route to Rawal 
Pindi — Ludicrous spectacle presented by native followers — State 
of training in India and reforms effected by General Luck — Visit of 
Prince Albert Victor to Muridki — Pass Higher Standard Examination 
in Hindustani — Successes at Rawal Pindi District Assault-at-Arms — 
On detachment at Murree — Pass examination in Persian — In charge 
of Government Grass Farm at Rawal Pindi — In charge of Regi- 
mental Signallers — Acting Station Staff Officer and Secretary of 
Assault-at-Arms Committee — Pass examinations in Punjabi and 
Pushtu — Black Mountain Expedition — Miranzai Expedition — 
Some amusing incidents in connection with the latter — Posted to 
Army Headquarters, Simla. 

Being unable to join my new regiment in India imtil the 
'' trooping season " of the following autumn I was posted 
to the depot at Canterbury, where the depots of all cavalry 
regiments serving abroad were then located. These consisted 
almost entirely of recruits, and as their training was mainly 
in the hands of the depot staff the officers had little to do 
except enjoy themselves. I therefore took advantage of the 
opportunity to attend an officers' course of musketry at 
Hythe in order to qualify as " Instructor," as my sergeant's 
certificate quahfied me as " assistant instructor " only. 
The chief novelty of the course was the maxim gun, then 
in its experimental stage. After completing the course I 
went on two months* leave, and having bid good-bye to my 
mother — which proved to be our final parting — I sailed from 
Portsmouth in the Indian troopship " Euphrates " on the 
2 1st November, and reached Bombay about a month later. 

34 



TROOPSHIPS 35 

These troopships have long since been replaced by trans- 
ports hired from the merchant service, and no one was sorry 
for their supersession. They had a speed of only eight or nine 
knots ; were manned by naval personnel who thoroughly 
disliked the work and made no secret of it in their dealings 
with the soldiers ; and the accommodation was indifferent 
and disagreeable. The men were closely packed together on 
the lower deck, with a small space on the upper deck for 
use during the day. The majority of the junior officers' 
cabins were on or below the water-line, and consequently 
were more or less in permanent darkness and without fresh 
air. The children of the officers were located in one large 
cabin, known as the dove-cot, any berths not occupied by 
them or their nurses being assigned to the wives of the 
most junior officers, whether they themselves owned any 
of the infants or not. The noise which sometimes prevailed 
in this amalgamated nursery, especially in rough weather, 
can be better imagined than described. The wives and 
children of the men had quarters in the fore-part of the ship, 
and twice each night after ii p.m. these were visited by the 
military officer of the watch in order to ascertain that the 
sentry on the door was fulfilling his duty of permitting no 
man to enter. I suppose the visits had been found necessary, 
but the perambulation by subaltern officers through a maze 
of cots containing sleeping women and girls could hardly be 
commended from the standpoint of refinement, and this 
was particularly the case when the sea was rough or the 
weather hot. 

In passing through the Suez Canal our vessel ran into 
one of the banks — not an uncommon proceeding on the 
part of a troopship — and there we remained for about 
twelve hours before we could be got off. On arrival at 
Bombay we were besieged by the usual crowd of natives 
who wished to be employed as personal servants, this being 
the first trap into which the new-comer is apt to faU, unless 
he has been duly warned of it beforehand. Not a few of 
these gentry, more especially those who can speak EngHsh, 
make a practice of meeting transports and inducing ofiicers 
arriving in India for the first time to engage them ; and 
after a few days they disappear, having meanwhile fleeced 



36 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

their newly-found and innocent " Sahib " of as many rupees 
as his trustful nature and ignorance of the country will allow. 

From Bombay I proceeded to Muttra, the permanent 
station of my regiment, and thence to Meerut, where the 
regiment itself was attending a camp of exercise, or training 
camp, under the command of General Sir George Greaves. 
I received a most friendly welcome from aU members of the 
officers' mess, which at once dispelled the anxiety I had felt 
as to the nature of the reception that would be accorded me, 
and I quickly settled down to my new life and surroundings. 

Returning to Muttra on conclusion of the training, I 
began my first experience of an Indian summer, which is 
there both long and hot, and the greater part of the day, 
from about ten in the morning till six in the evening, must 
necessarily be spent indoors. By retiring early to bed and 
leading an abstemious life I avoided the rather common and 
injurious habit of sleeping during the day, and utihsed the 
time in learning Hindustani. My munshi, or teacher, a man 
of a stout and lethargic type, was quite content with what- 
ever progress his pupils made, or did not make, provided he 
regularly received his monthly pay of ten rupees. To keep 
awake when teaching after his mid- day meal was entirely 
beyond his powers, and he could not understand why I 
should wish to work while other Sahibs either took their 
lessons in the evening or not at all. By degrees I caused 
him to see that this was not my method of doing business, 
and within three months the " lower standard " examination 
was successfully negotiated, and a commencement made in 
preparing for examination by the " higher standard." 

There was excellent sport in the vicinity of Muttra, 
including an unlimited supply of pig, and as there were no 
other troops in the station we were able to arrange both 
shooting and pig-sticking so as to derive full advantage from 
the abundant facilities available. 

Of work there was very little : the weather was too hot 
to admit of much being done, and, as at all cantonments in 
the Indian plains, a large proportion of the men were sent to 
a hill-station for six months or so during the summer. The 
adjutant falling ill, I was detailed to act for him, and for 
several weeks this kept me more fully employed than would 



MUTTRA 37 

otherwise have been the case, and incidentally it gave me 
a chance to show what I could do. The adjutant also 
officiated as station staff officer and cantonment magistrate, 
and from carrying out these duties I learned something of 
the native customs of the coimtry. The troop and squadron 
officers with whom I was directly associated, and in fact all 
the officers, were particularly pleasant and helpful, and on 
the whole I felt, and still feel, that I was fortimate in having 
been posted to the regiment. Walter, an ex-infantry officer, 
was the captain of my troop. Some thirty years later I 
unveiled the memorial erected in his village after the Great 
War. On it, as in so many other cases, was the name of his 
only son and child. 

The non-commissioned officers and men of the regiment 
were of a good class and well-behaved. Drunkenness was 
the principal cause of the Httle misconduct there was, and 
this not infrequently had its origin in the practice which 
then prevailed in India of " tasting " the beer supplied to 
the canteen. Once a week three or four non-commissioned 
officers and men were detailed, in accordance with the 
regulations, to taste each cask of beer received, before it 
was issued for consumption. Sometimes there were a good 
many casks to be tasted, and therefore it was an easy matter 
for the tasters to find by the time they had finished that 
they had tasted too often — more especially so as the weather 
was hot and the tasting took place, as a rule, before break- 
fast. This pernicious custom has, I believe, been discon- 
tinued. 

In November 1889 the regiment left Muttra by road for 
Muridki, near Lahore, where it was to attend a camp of 
exercise with twelve other cavalry regiments and some 
batteries of horse artillery, and afterwards proceed to its 
new station at Rawal Pindi. The march to Muridki occu- 
pied over five weeks, and thence to Rawal Pindi nearly 
three weeks, and it thus afforded a good opportunity for 
seeing the country. Starting at about six o'clock in the 
morning, the day's march of ten to fifteen miles would 
be finished by ten o'clock at the latest ; breakfast and 
stables took another three hours or so, after which there 
was usually plenty of rough shooting to be obtained quite 



38 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

near the halting- place. All officers were accompanied, as 
was the custom in those days, not only by a dozen to a score 
servants each — bearers, khansamahs, syces, sweepers, dhobis, 
bhistis, grass-cutters — ^but also by two or three generations 
of their servants* families and their belongings. For the 
conveyance of these '* followers " each officer provided at 
least one and more often two or three bullock wagons, on 
and around which were piled and hung every imaginable 
kind of household effects, while on the top of aU were 
perched the women, children, and grand-parents. A more 
ludicrous spectacle or unwieldy crowd could not be seen. 

At Kumaul, on the way to Muridki, the students of 
the native coUege challenged us at cricket. They wore 
the customary Indian dress, and as they played with 
naked feet, and the ground was as hard as ffint, they 
had rather a poor time against our fast bowling, and did 
well to make as many as thirty-five runs. At several 
places I noticed that the young Indians were very keen on 
this game, and they were not over particular about the 
conditions imder which they played it. At Lahore, for 
instance, I watched a school match in which the ball used 
was made of wood, and the pitch lay across no fewer than 
three distinct furrows ! 

At Ludhiana we crossed the Sutlej by a ferry-train and 
then entered the Punjab, or country of " five rivers " — ^the 
Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Chenab, and Jhelum — all bemg tribu- 
taries of the Indus. The passage of the Beas in flat- 
bottomed boats took two days, and the Ravi, just beyond 
Lahore, was crossed by a bridge of boats. 

The camp at Muridki was under the command of Major- 
General Luck, who had recently been appointed Inspector- 
General of Cavalry. He was considered by some officers 
of the old school to be more of a drill-sergeant than a cavalry 
commander, in that he required regimental officers to know 
far more about their men and horses and the details of drill 
than was either reasonable or necessary. To my mind he 
only asked of officers what it was their duty to give : he 
expected them to know their work and be able to instruct 
their men, and this is what many officers in India and 
elsewhere did not then know and could not do. He imparted 



MANOEUVRES 39 

a much-needed impetus to cavalry training before he left 
India to become Inspector-General at home. 

Much useful elementary training, of a character hitherto 
unknown in India, was carried out during the first three 
weeks at Muridki, and subsequently the troops were divided 
into two opposing forces, placed fifty miles apart, and 
exercised in the role of independent cavalry. The scheme 
was apparently designed to afford instruction in long- 
distance reconnaissance duties and then finish with a great 
cavalry fight, which in those days was considered to be the 
orthodox prelude to the clash of the main armies. The 
operations, in general, were conducted on practical fines : 
we bivouacked each night as and where we could, under 
active service conditions, and fived mainly on the coimtry 
through which we passed. There were some exciting, 
though not very edifying, encounters between the opposing 
patrols, and these were the matters of chief interest to 
junior officers such as myself. In one case a hostile party 
consisting of an officer and six men rode right round the 
rear of the force to which my regiment belonged before being 
observed, or at any rate stopped. I was sent with half a 
troop in pursuit when the party was at last seen, and rather 
proudly returned with all the horses, five of the men, and the 
officer's sword. He and one of his men escaped by jumping 
into a river and swimming across to the other side, and thus 
he no doubt took back to his General the information he 
had been sent out to obtain. Possibly he might have been 
less successful had we been able to use ball-ammunition 
instead of blank while he was in the water. This reminds 
me that the rough ground and dense clouds of black dust, 
in which we were usuaUy enveloped when working in 
compact bodies, led to three men being kiUed and several 
others injured before the manoeuvres terminated. 

On the concluding day of the operations the Commander- 
in-Chief, Lord Roberts, and a large number of staff officers 
and ladies from Simla and Calcutta were present at the 
spot where it was expected that the great fight would 
occur, but the opposing commanders either decided not to 
fight at that particular place or time, or they failed to locate 
each other's main body, with the result that the fight did 



40 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

not come off ! The big - wigs were exceedingly wrotli, 
according to camp gossip, at what they classed as the 
manifest incompetency of the commanders, but the fault 
probably lay as much with the big-wigs themselves — the 
framers of the scheme — as with those who carried it out. 

Exactly who was to blame I cannot say, because it was 
not yet the custom for junior regimental officers to be told 
what was supposed to be happening, or what the scheme of 
operations was. All I know for certain is that my regiment, 
and I think most of the others, walked straight into its 
camp, from where it had started a few days before, without 
having seen a sign of the enemy, and was very pleased to 
get there at an earlier hour than had been anticipated. 

Prince Albert Victor, elder brother of His Majesty, was 
present during the final stages of the training, and the pro- 
ceedings were brought to an end on the 28th January with 
a review of all the troops and a charge in line on a front 
of nearly two miles. We in the ranks could see practically 
nothing for dust, and I doubt if the spectators saw much 
more. Other events which figured on the programme 
during the Princess stay were a " darbar," attended by 
numerous Indian chiefs in full war attire, a smoking concert, 
and various competitions in skill-at-arms. A feature of 
the concert was an exhibition of sword-play by some 
" sowars " (native cavalrymen), which looked particularly 
fine as seen by the light of the huge camp-fire around which 
we sat. The Prince presented a silver cup for the best 
score made at tent-pegging, and being in good form at the 
time I was a strong regimental favourite. I struck the first 
peg fair in the middle, but, as sometimes happens, it spht, 
and as I failed to carry it away I became, according to the 
rules, inehgible to take any further part in the competition. 
There was some keen rivalry shown amongst the native 
regiments in the '* lance-exercise *' competition, and I must 
confess that, although one of the judges, I was hopeful that 
the prize would go to the i8th Bengal Lancers, whose scarlet 
tunics reminded me of my old regiment the i6th Lancers. 
Sentiment had, however, to be kept in check, and another 
fine regiment, I forget which, carried off the prize by the 
narrow margin of five points out of a possible two hundred . 



TRAVELLING EXPENSES 41 

Whilst at Muridki I passed the examination in the higher 
standard of Hindustani, the language used being known as 
Hindi and the character Sanskrit, while for the lower 
standard the language is known as Urdu and the character 
is Persian. I had been examined in the higher standard 
three months before at Meerut, and felt fairly certain 
that I had been successful, but it turned out that the 
President of the Examining Board was not qualified to act 
as such and the proceedings were therefore annulled. 
According to the Indian Army Regulations (there are, or 
were, some twenty or thirty volumes of them) candidates, 
if successful, received their travelling expenses, and as the 
appointment of the wrong President was no fault of mine I 
claimed these expenses. The financial reply was that I could 
not have them as I had not, in fact, " passed," and my 
answer to this was that not only had I incurred the expenses 
because some one else had blundered, but that, for the same 
reason, I was now compelled to go through a further course 
of preparation, with its attendant cost. The correspondence 
continued to see-saw in this manner for several weeks, and 
at last my commanding officer became so infuriated with 
the sight of it that I gave up the contest. 

On the 30th January 1890 the regiment left Mmidki 
for Rawal Pindi, amongst the notable places passed through 
being Gujrat, where was fought the final battle in the Sikh 
war. Here, in my walk round, I came across a batch of 
school-boys squatted on the ground and poring over a small- 
scale map of Europe, which was being explained to them by 
their master. Like many people before them, they were 
surprised and puzzled most of aU at the very small space 
occupied by England. 

The 500 miles' march from Muttra to the Jhelum had 
lain over a dead-flat plain, but after crossing this river we 
entered the foot-hills of the Himalayas, whose snowy 
summits had already been visible many marches earher. 
One afternoon I went some distance into these hills so as 
to get a better view of the sunset, and, forgetting that there 
was practically no twilight, remained gazing too long, with 
the result that darkness caught me in a labyrinth of rocks 
and ravines through which I had to crawl and scramble in 



42 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

the direction where I hoped the camp might be. After 
some hours' anxiety lest I would have to wait for dayhght 
I fortunately saw the camp-fires and so found my way back. 
Between Jhelum and Rawal Pindi — I forget exactly where 
— I visited the spot on which Alexander the Great is 
supposed to have erected, in 326 B.C., the monument to his 
favourite charger, Bucephalus. 

We reached Rawal Pindi, the Aldershot of northern 
India, on the 17th February, and shortly afterwards the 
annual district assault-at-arms took place. At this meeting 
I was more fortunate than at Muridki, winning the tent- 
pegging quite easily. The following year I took the first 
prizes in swordsmanship and fencmg, and fought in the final 
for the chief prize — that for the best ofhcer-at-arms — ^but 
being fairly and squarely unhorsed by an officer of the nth 
Bengal Lancers I failed to win it. Another officer of this 
regiment against whom I fought was Lieutenant (now 
General Sir WiUiam) Birdwood. The chief prize fell to me 
a year later, as did two other prizes. These achievements, 
such as they were, were mainly due to keeping myself 
physically fit — ^not an easy thing to do in the plains of 
India unless one is blessed with a strong constitution, and 
is careful to safeguard it by temperate habits and suitable 
exercise. 

I claim no credit for pursuing these habits, because I 
had not the wherewithal to do otherwise. Water was the 
only drink I could afford, while for smoking I had to be 
content with a fixed amount of tobacco and cheroots at 
two shillings a himdred. It was not altogether agreeable 
to be seen drinking water at mess when others were drinking 
champagne, or to defer smoking till leaving the mess because 
pipes were not allowed, but it had to be done. 

After being at Rawal Pindi for a few weeks I was sent 
with a detachment to spend the hot season at the hill- 
station of Murree, where we were joined by a similar detach- 
ment of the Queen's Bays, the combined strength being 
about 300 men. I was appointed acting-adjutant for the 
whole and was of course responsible for the training and 
discipline of my own men. These duties occupied the 
greater part of the day, but by avoiding most of the socia] 



FARMING 43 

engagements common to hill-stations in India, I was able to 
give some three or four hours daily to the study of a third 
language — Persian. 

My teacher, a native of Persia, was an exasperating but 
none the less attractive person, who had evidently led a 
scapegrace kind of life and possibly for that reason had 
taken refuge in India. At one time he would be most regular 
in his attendance and very smartly dressed. At other times 
he was quite the reverse, and for days did not put in an 
appearance. I induced him to mend his ways, and as he 
was a well-educated and capable instructor, the higher 
standard was successfully passed before I returned to Rawal 
Pindi in the autumn. 

Immediately afterwards I was appointed by the General 
in command, Sir William EUes, to supervise the govern- 
ment grass farm, of about eleven thousand acres, then being 
started for the purpose of supplying the horses of the station 
with hay in place of the " dhub " grass which, according to 
the Indian custom, had hitherto been brought in daily by an 
army of " grass-cutters." This appointment proved to be 
a tiresome affair, as the native contractors were continually 
advancing plausible reasons why I should excuse their 
breaches of agreement, and as they had complete control 
over practically all the available coolie labour I was some- 
times in the predicament of having to choose between 
accepting inferior work and getting no work at all. 

Besides looking after my farm I was placed in charge of 
the regimental signallers, the commanding officer telling me 
at the time that a very unsatisfactory report on them had 
been received from army headquarters, and that there 
must be a great improvement. He added that he would 
allow me a free hand as to their training, while I in my 
turn must undertake to make them more efficient. I 
promised to do this, subject to there being no mistake 
with respect to the free hand, and thanks to the loyal 
co-operation of my men the regiment gained first place in 
the order of merit at the next annual inspection. Some 
time afterwards I was offered the appointment of assistant 
inspector of signalling in India, but I declined it as some- 
thing more promising was then in sight. 



44 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Another appointment which occasionally devolved upon 
me, in the absence of the permanent holder, was that of 
station staff officer, in which capacity I served under Sir 
Power Palmer and Sir George Luck, who respectively held 
temporary command of the Rawal Pindi district. For two 
years I was also secretary of the district assault-at-arms 
committee. My hands were therefore fairly full, but by a 
proper adjustment of work I was able to take a share of 
regimental duties, as well as find sufficient leisure to qualify 
in two more languages, Punjabi and Pushtu, thus making 
five in all. 

Pushtu resembles Persian in many ways, but the colloquial 
is difficult. I failed in it at my first attempt, partly because 
I had the misfortune to miss the train which was to take me 
to Peshawar for the examination, and had to travel all night 
in the guard's van of a luggage train in order to present 
myself at the appointed hour ; and chiefly because the wild 
man, a Mohmand, whom the examiners produced to converse 
with me, launched out into a long dissertation about the 
Christian belief in the Trinity. Not understanding in the 
least what he was talking about I made all kinds of wild 
and incorrect guesses in the endeavour to keep up the 
conversation, with the result that I was hopelessly ploughed. 
Six months' further study, plus a new munshi, enabled me 
to pass with fl5dng colours. In 1920 this munshi, Ziaud-Din 
by name, sent his son to call on me when the latter, a youth 
of about twenty years of age, came to London to study law. 

The pecuniary rewards given by the Indian Government 
for passing examinations in these languages was little more 
than sufficient to pay expenses, but this httle was not to 
be despised for it helped to keep my head, financially, above 
water. Having established some reputation as a hnguist, 
I was able to make a contract with my munshis to pay a 
fixed sum on passing instead of the customary monthly 
wage irrespective of passing. When stud5dng Punjabi my 
only spare time was before 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m., and in 
order that the munshi might be on the spot when required 
I lodged him in the compound with the other natives of my 
household, and told him that he might call me as early 
as he hked for our first lesson. Determined to earn his 



ACTIVE SERVICE 45 

money in as short a time as possible he appeared every 
morning by my bedside with maddening regularity at a 
very early hour, quietly but persistently calling out, 
" Sahib, Sahib," until I awoke. He reaped his reward 
within a few weeks, for as Punjabi has much in common 
with Hindi it was easy to master for examination purposes. 
He has apparently not yet forgotten his old pupil, as three 
years ago I received the following from him : 

Pandit Dhanpat Rai (of Rahon), Officers' Punjabi Munshi, 
sends his most respectful salaams for Christmas Day and his best 
wishes for a happy new year. 

Present address : Sadar Bazar, Peshawar (India). 

A knowledge of oriental languages did not at the time 
appear to be of much professional use as the regiment was 
shortly due to go to South Africa, and indeed very few officers 
in British regiments serving in India took the trouble to 
study them, with the exception of Hindustani. I had 
the impression, however, that they might prove useful, and 
so it turned out, for it was largely owing to my knowledge 
of them that I was later appointed to the staff. 

Before this happened I gained my initial experience of 
active service. Early in 1891 a punitive expedition under 
Sir William EUes was sent against certain of the Black 
Mountain tribes, who had continued to give trouble ever 
since the fruitless expedition of 1888, and whilst this expedi- 
tion was in progress some 16,000 Miranzai tribesmen raided 
the frontier near Kohat, doing considerable damage and get- 
ting within two or three miles of that place. To deal with 
them a mixed brigade of infantry and artiUery was ordered 
to be withdrawn from the Black Mountain and despatched 
to Kohat as quickly as possible, Sir William Lockhart to 
be in command. 

On the 7th April I was suddenly deputed to go to 
Hassan Abdal, the railhead of the Black Mountain force, 
and make the necessary arrangements for railing the Kohat 
force to Kushalgarh, which was the selected base of the new 
operations and, at the time, the railway terminus in that 
direction. The transport animals, mainly mules, and their 
native drivers gave me a good deal of trouble, especially those 



46 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

that had to be entrained during the night, but, to quote from 
a letter I wrote home, " a knowledge of the vernacular ex- 
pedites matters considerably, more particularly when rubbed 
in with a stout stick, a weapon I always carry." 

The wives of certain officers were also the cause of some 
trouble, and in their case neither the vernacular nor the 
stick could be employed. Not having seen their husbands 
for some weeks, and not knowing when they might have 
another opportunity of seeing them, they came up by rail 
from Rawal Pindi to meet them when passing through Hassan 
Abdal. There were no buildings suitable for Europeans 
except the small wayside station and a three-roomed dak 
bungalow, and therefore these ladies monopoHsed practically 
all the accommodation available. They might more 
appropriately have stayed at home, but soldiering in India 
thirty years ago was conducted in an easy-going fashion in 
more ways than one. 

Amongst the officers who passed through Hassan Abdal 
was Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, who was then 
serving with his regiment in India. I had not met him 
before, and when he came to ask me for a railway warrant I 
remarked that he was looking rather dirty and ragged after 
his Black Mountain experiences. His good-humoured reply 
greatly helped to dispel the confusion into which I feU when 
he gave me his name. The Prince was universally regarded 
as a good officer, and was very popular with aU ranks. 

The brigade was despatched sufficiently quickly to reach 
Kohat before further damage was done there, and I was 
gratified to receive a telegram from Sir WiUiam Lockhart 
expressing his satisfaction at the rapidity and smoothness 
with which the railway movement had been carried out. 

Being eager to see active service I telegraphed to head- 
quarters at Rawal Pindi saying that I proposed going to 
Kushalgarh with the last train-load of troops, so as to ensure 
that ever3d:hing was in order at that place. This was 
approved, but just as the train was due to start a second 
message arrived canceUing the first and teUing me to go back 
to Rawal Pindi. This I put into my pocket and, quite 
improperly, ignored, hoping that once I got to Kushalgarh 
I would be allowed to accompany the force to Kohat and 



KUSHALGARH 47 

thence into the Miranzai country. The plot did not work 
out successfully, for three days later I was again directed, 
and in more peremptory terms, to return. 

On arrival at Rawal Pindi, however, I was met by a 
staff officer who told me that I was to go back to Kushalgarh 
at once by the train in which I had just travelled, and take 
up the duties of Base Commandant. As I had had httle or 
nothing to eat for the last two or three days — ^nothing being 
obtainable at Kushalgarh — I replied that I must first lay 
in a stock of suppHes and would then proceed by a later 
train. He was not inclined to consent but did so at last, 
and during the day my orders were again changed, and I 
was told that I need not go back. Two days afterwards 
it was discovered that matters at Kushalgarh had got into 
a muddle, and I was then bundled off at a few hours' notice 
with direct instructions from the General to put them right. 
I accordingly started, having but a very vague idea of what 
was required of me in my new capacity. The important 
thing seemed to be to hurry up to the front all men, animals, 
and material arriving at the base, and send back to Rawal 
Pindi with equal despatch everything arriving from the 
front. By adhering to this rough rule I managed to give 
satisfaction to the authorities both at the front and the rear. 
'* Kushalgarh " signifies the " happy mountain," but a 
more abominable place in which to Uve cannot be imagined. 
Situated on the banks of the Indus — ^which was crossed at 
the time by a bridge of boats — ^it is notoriously hot in 
summer, and is devoid of everything save rocks and sand. 
My only shelter was a small Indian tent, and at times the 
heat was almost unbearable. It would have been entirely 
so had I not always been able to procure a cool drink by 
anchoring a hamper of lemonade and soda water in the 
river, then in flood from the melting snows of the Hima- 
layas and icy cold a few feet below the surface. Once, for 
a period of two days, we had a plague of locusts ; on the 
table, in the bed, in clothing, in cooking utensils, every- 
where were the locusts. They were so thick on the ground 
that one morning they actually stopped a train. There was 
a slight ascent to the station, and the crushing of the 
locusts made the rails so slippeiy that the train had to 



48 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

be brought in by a section at a time, a party of men being 
detailed to throw sand on the Hne and sweep away the 
pests in front of the engine. A terrific storm of wind 
followed, and this effectively cleared them off, but it also 
levelled all our tents and carried away my only suit of 
pyjamas ! 

Wishing to escape from the heat and to establish more 
favourable conditions imder which to work, I told the native 
station-master that I proposed to use the ladies' waiting- 
room as an office during the daytime, as no ladies ever came 
to the station at that season, and there were none within 
fifty miles of it, but he suggested that I should first obtain 
the permission of the superintendent of the line. I therefore 
sent a brief telegram to the latter, who was well-known to 
me, and he at once gave his consent. Some months later, 
when the accounts of the expedition were being audited, 
I received a letter from the Adjutant-General at Simla asking 
for an explanation as to why I had sent an official telegram 
on what was evidently a private matter, namely, an appHca- 
tion to use a ladies' waiting-room ! I explained the circum- 
stances, very clearly I thought, but failed to satisfy him, 
and was directed not to repeat the irregularity in future, 
and meanwhile to defray the cost of the telegram amounting 
to eight annas. 

This was not the only financial trouble into which I fell 
in connection with this expedition. On the breaking- up 
of the base I returned the camp equipment and other stores 
to the government arsenal at Lahore, and on their arrival 
it was alleged that many articles were missing, the value 
of which amounted to twenty thousand rupees. I was 
so informed in the usual Babu phraseology, and requested 
" kindly to remit same." The sum was so far in excess 
of my abihty to pay that it struck me as being exceedingly 
comic, and after a lengthy correspondence, in which I main- 
tained that the missing articles had been returned, the charge 
was " written off " and I was exonerated. 

I may add here that I did not receive the medal for 
either of the expeditions referred to above, as I had not 
crossed the fine of demarcation which qualified for it. 

Early in 1892 the Intelligence Branch at army head- 



THE INTELLIGENCE BRANCH 49 

quarters was about to be strengthened by an increased 
number of officers. The intention was to take these officers 
partly from native and partly from British regiments, 
and after they had served a period of probation as 
" attaches " to select from amongst them for permanent 
employment such as it was considered desirable to retain. 
It was necessary, of course, that they should possess the 
linguistic attainments required by the nature of the work 
they had to do, and as I had five languages to my credit 
I was one of those chosen from British regiments, and was 
ordered to proceed to Simla forthwith. 



CHAPTER IV 

IN THE INTELLIGENCE BRANCH, SIMLA 

Indian Intelligence Branch reorganised by General Sir H. Brackenbury — 
Curious division of duties at Army Headquarters — Comparison with 
system at home — Society favourites thought to have best chance 
of Staff employment — Colonels EUes and Mason — First permanent 
Staff appointment — Countries dealt with by North-West Frontier 
Section, in which I am employed — Situation in Afghanistan — 
Kafiristan — Intricate frontier questions to be settled — Proceed on 
leave to England — Death of my mother — Frontier matters still 
disturbed on return to India — Question of Russian advance on 
India via the Pamirs — Ordered to reconnoitre route leading to 
Pamirs — Srinagar — Bridges in Kashmir — Gilgit — Rakapushi Moun- 
tain — Hunza — Meet Townshend and Fowler — Yasin — Darkot Pass 
— The Pamirs — Return to India via the Indus, Chilas, and Abbotta- 
bad — Pass examination in Gurkhali. 

The decision to reorganise the Intelligence Branch was 
due to the initiative of General Sir Henry Brackenbury, the 
MiUtary Member of the Viceroy's Council. This General 
had previously been Director of Mihtary IntelHgence at 
the War Office, and he was quick to perceive that the Simla 
Branch required much overhauling if it was to cope efficiently 
with the mihtary situation then prevaiUng on the North- 
West Frontier and in Central Asia. At the time the In- 
telligence and MobiHsation Branches were both subdivisions 
of the department of the Quartermaster-General, who was 
responsible for deaUng with military operations and questions 
of military policy in general. He was therefore charged, 
in addition to his usual duties of supply, transport, and 
barracks, with what we now know as the duties of the 
General Staff, except that the Adjutant-General was re- 
sponsible for training, and from this it followed that he 
occupied the position of Chief Staff Officer of the Commander- 
in-Chief. 

It is significant of the illogical manner in which we 

50 



THE INTELLIGENCE BRANCH 51 

then conducted our Imperial military affairs that quite 
another system obtained at home. There the Adjutant- 
General was the Chief Staff Officer of the Commander-in- 
Chief, and had under him the Intelligence and MobiUsation 
Branches as well as training, while the Quartermaster-General 
was concerned only with the duties which properly belonged 
to him. Again, when the War Office was reorganised in 1904 
the Commander-in-Chief was aboHshed on the ground that 
no one man could carry out the duties which had hitherto 
devolved upon him, and these were accordingly divided up 
between a number of army councillors, each of whom was 
made responsible for his department to the Secretary of 
State for War. In India, on the other hand, and at about 
the same period, it was the Mihtary Member — roughly the 
equivalent of the War Secretary at home — who was for 
all practical purposes aboUshed, since he was made the sub- 
ordinate of the Commander-in-Chief, and the latter became 
the supreme head of all miUtary business in the coimtry. 
Conditions in India differ considerably from those at home, 
and a Commander-in-Chief is undoubtedly necessary there, 
but the difference is not so great as to justify having an 
entirely different military system in other respects, and it 
is satisfactory to know that within recent years the two 
headquarters have been brought more into Une. 

Apart from the faulty organisation of headquarters as a 
whole, the Intelligence Branch had suffered because of the 
inadequacy — and perhaps of the inferior quahty — of its per- 
sonnel. Although much had been done by the Commander- 
in-Chief, Lord Roberts, to ensure that priority for staff 
emplo5mient should be governed by professional capacity, 
favouritism and social influence were not yet deemed by the 
outsider to be extinct. It was alleged that staff officers 
were still too often selected from amongst those who were 
Ukely to be successful performers in amateur theatricals, or 
be useful in some other way at the various entertainments 
provided for the amusement of Simla society. I was 
frequently asked on first arrival at this smart hill- station 
what my special accomphshment was — acting, singing, or 
whistling — and what my contribution to the amenities of 
the season was to be. It was taken for granted that I could 



52 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

do something of this nature, and do it well, and my interro- 
gators were surprised to learn that I could contribute 
nothing. 

Fortunately, this missing element in my equipment 
was a recommendation in the eyes of my new chief. Colonel 
(now General Sir) Edmund EUes, half-brother of the General 
under whom I had served at Rawal Pindi. He expected 
his subordinates to keep themselves physically and mentally 
fit by taking a share in all outdoor games and recreations, 
but he also demanded a full day's work. To his sound and 
able guidance I attribute much of the success, such as it is, 
which attended my subsequent career, and from both him 
and his wife, a lady of gentle and kind disposition, I received 
many proofs of sincere friendship. Some twenty years 
later, when I was commandant of the Staff College, their 
son was one of the students, and in the Great War he won 
distinction as commander of the Tank Corps. 

I was equally happy in my immediate chief, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Mason of the Royal Engineers, who was in charge 
of the North- West Frontier section to which I was posted. 
He was a man of sterling character, an acknowledged expert 
on all questions relating to the frontier, and quite fearless 
in the expression of the military opinions which he was called 
upon to lay before his superiors. Of a retiring nature, he 
was slow to confide in new acquaintances, but I gained his 
confidence fairly soon, and he taught me much about the 
fife, customs, and attitude of the heterogeneous tribes of 
the North- West Frontier, which I could have learned so 
well from no one else. It was due to him and to Elles that, 
within a few weeks of my arrival at Simla, Lord Roberts 
approved of my temporary appointment being made per- 
manent for the usual period of five years, and in this way 
I received my first employment on the staff. Mason's 
death from an attack of enteric fever two years later was 
a great loss to the army. 

My section dealt with the whole of the independent and 
semi-independent territories, including Afghanistan, Kash- 
mir, and Baluchistan, which extend for some 2000 miles along 
the North- West Frontier from Tibet on the right to the 
Arabian Sea on the left. Of Kashmir and Baluchistan, both 



AFGHANISTAN 53 

within the border of Indian administration, there is nothing 
special to say, while as to the trans-frontier tribes aU that 
need be said is that trouble with one or another was 
constantly breaking out or threatening to do so. We knew 
really very Httle about their territory, and could not well 
obtain much information as the border-line was closed to 
us except when opened by a punitive expedition. 

Afghanistan was of importance as being a " buffer *' 
between India and Russian territory. The agreement with 
the Amir, Abdul Rahman, was that in return for an annual 
subsidy and other advantages he would have no foreign 
relations with any Power except the Government of India. 
The agreement was modified later, and exactly what the 
arrangement now is I do not know. The country had been 
torn with war and dissensions before Abdul Rahman assumed 
the rulership in 1880, and in 1892, when I went to Simla, 
he had not yet ever)rwhere estabHshed order, although he 
had, by drastic methods, gone far in that direction. 

Afghanistan is one of the most difficult countries in the 
world to govern, for the inhabitants, about five milhons in 
number, are not of the same stock and lineage, and do not 
possess the same pohtical interests and tribal affinities. 
The only bond of union among them is that of reUgion, and 
even this is neither strong nor durable, owing to the division 
of the people into the two great hostile sects of the faith of 
Muhammad, Shiahs and Sunnis. The latter are now far 
more numerous than the former. The two principal Afghan 
tribes, properly so-called, are the Duranis and Ghilzais, 
the former being found chiefly in the Kandahar and Farah 
Provinces and the Ghilzais in the Kabul Province. The 
Ghilzais are said to be the descendants of " Ghalzoe," i.e. 
the " son of a thief,*' whose birth took place within three 
months of the marriage of his parents. In the northern 
provinces the inhabitants are for the most part alien to 
the Afghan, being Turkomans in Turkistan and of Persian 
origin in Herat. The army, of which the Amir was proud, 
was about 130,000 strong, of whom 100,000 were regulars 
and 30,000 militia. It comprised the three arms, cavalry, 
artillery, and infantry. 

Considered as a theatre of war, Afghanistan is a water- 



54 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

less, treeless, foodless, roadless, mountainous country, and 
has been described as Spain once was — a country in which 
a large army will starve and a smaU one will be murdered. 
The chief mountain range, the Hindu Kush, has a general 
elevation of between 12,000 and 18,000 feet, and is every- 
where precipitous and arid. A more desolate and inhospi- 
table region cannot be imagined. 

The routes leading through the country between the 
Russian and Indian frontiers we used to classify in three 
groups : Pamirs line, Kabul line, and Kandahar line. I will 
refer to the Pamirs line later, merely saying here that the 
distance from the Russian frontier to Peshawar is about 
600 miles. By the Kabul line there are several alternative 
routes as far as the capital, the distance from the Oxus to 
Peshawar being about 450 miles. By Herat and Kandahar 
the distance to Quetta is 650 miles. These distances, coupled 
with what has been said about the coimtry, will serve to 
show the enormous difficulties to be overcome in conducting 
miUtary operations on any of the three lines. 

The Amir's policy was to permit no kind of interference 
with his internal affairs, and although he received subsidies 
and supplies of arms from us he would make few or no 
concessions in return, and all projects, such as railways 
and telegraphs, proposed for the better defence of the 
country he viewed with distrust. He maintained the same 
attitude towards foreign visitors, and beyond the few 
employees he had at Kabul, no European was allowed to set 
foot in the country except in the rare event of a " mission," 
and the members of it would always be closely watched. 

Lord Curzon was the only person during my four years 
at Simla who entered Afghanistan as a guest, under the 
auspices of the Amir. He once gave me an amusing 
description of the attire he wore when meeting the Amir 
for the first time. It included a military frock-coat, cocked 
hat, boots of the Household Cavalry type, fierce-looking 
brass spurs, and an elaborate presentation sword lent by 
Sir William Lockhart. Lord Curzon was quite right, for 
this kind of display counts for much in the eyes of the 
Eastern chief, who remains quite unmoved by the sight of 
a top-hat, morning coat, and white spats. 



BOUNDARY QUESTIONS 55 

At the time I joined the IntelUgence Branch many 
compUcated problems were constantly coming up for 
examination. Umra KhaJi of Jandol, of whom more will 
be said in the next chapter, was aggressively active on the 
borders of Kafiristan and elsewhere ; other semi-independent 
tribes were fractious, and threatened to indulge in one of 
their periodical outbreaks ; the Afghan-Persian boundary 
was in dispute ; while Russia was systematically pushing 
forward her outposts on the Pamirs and disturbing the peace 
of mind of the Amir, who feared that he might be deprived 
of territory which he asserted belonged to him. Kafiristan, it 
may be explained, was the name given by the Muhammadans 
to the country lying between the province of Kabul and 
Chitral, the inhabitants of which were pagans and were 
therefore regarded by the Muhammadans as infidels, or 
" kafirs." These kafirs have no connection with the Kafir 
of South Africa. They were finally subdued by Abdul 
Rahman about 1895, and compelled to accept the religion 
of Islam. 

Following the Afghan Boundary Commission of 1884-88, 
an agreement had been reached with Russia in respect of 
the Russo-Afghan boundary from Badakhshan to Persia, but 
that separating the two countries in the vicinity of the 
Pamirs remained unsettled for several years afterwards. 
The trouble arose partly from the fact that in an agreement 
of 1872 the Oxus had been laid down as the boundary, and 
however clear this definition may have appeared to those 
who drafted the agreement, it proved to be far from clear 
when an attempt was made to put it into practice. The 
reason of this was that not one of the various streams in the 
Pamir region which go to form the Oxus is locally known 
by that name, while more than one of them can, at a pinch, 
be claimed as the main river according to the aims of the 
parties interested. The incident furnishes, amongst others 
I could quote, rather a striking example of the danger which 
attaches to the drafting of frontier agreements when 
dependent, as in this case, upon old and imperfect small 
scale maps and in the absence of complete topographical 

data. 

When I went to Simla there was no good information 



56 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

available as regards much of the vast area for which the 
Frontier Section was responsible. We had to rely largely 
upon the reports of travellers, and these seldom gave the 
kind of intelligence that was needed, much of it was many 
years old, while some of the travellers were themselves more 
renowned for their powers of graphic description than for 
the accuracy of their statements. By initiating new and 
extended reconnaissances, and introducing a better method 
of recording and compiling the information received, our 
stock of intelligence gradually improved both in quantity 
and quality. One compilation. The Gazetteer and Military 
Report on Afghanistan, occupied the greater part of my time 
for more than a year, the five volumes of which it was 
comprised aggregating some three thousand pages. It was 
a stupendous task, and I was glad when it was finished, 
but the knowledge I gained of the country was some 
compensation for the drudgery involved. 

In January 1893, having been over four years in India, 
I took six months' leave to England as I wished to qualify 
for promotion to Captain, which in those days entailed going 
through what was known as a " garrison class," or special 
course of military education. I was also anxious to see my 
mother, who I knew to be in failing health, but on arrival at 
Malta was met by a telegram conveying the news of her death. 
To that extent the trip to England was a bitter failure. 

When I returned to Simla in July 1893 affairs in 
Afghanistan and on the North- West Frontier generally 
were still in a very unsettled state, and in particular the 
activities of Russia on the Pamirs were feared — quite need- 
lessly — to constitute a threat on India, in the future if not 
at the present. It is incomprehensible why those who held 
this view never seemed to appreciate the tremendous 
topographical difficulties to be overcome. 

Another question constantly to the fore was whether, 
assuming the Pamir line of advance to be feasible for any- 
thing worth calling a military force, we ought to prepare for 
it by adopting what was known as a forward policy — ^that is, 
to push out our outposts and establish good commimications 
between India and the furthest hmit possible — or whether 
we should deliberately refrain from doing these things, so as 



THE KASHMIR VALLEY 57 

to place on the potential enemy the disadvantage of sur- 
mounting the defensive barrier provided by nature. There 
was much to be said on both sides, and much was said, 
and the compromise eventually arrived at was probably 
the wisest solution. 

In June 1894 I was deputed to reconnoitre various routes 

in the vicinity of the Pamirs, in order to obtain certain 

information of which we were specially in need. Leaving 

the railway at Rawal Pindi I travelled for about 150 miles 

in a ** tonga," or covered two-wheeled vehicle, drawn by 

two ponies changed at various distances en route, and not 

infrequently suffering from abominably sore shoulders. 

For the first forty miles the road climbed up the Murree 

hiUs, whence it descended to the Jhelum valley and then 

followed that river through gorges and defiles to Baramula 

at the entrance of the main valley of Kashmir, and within 

a few miles of the point where the Jhelum leaves the Wular 

Lake. From here I crossed the lake and ascended the river 

to Srinagar in a kind of miniature houseboat, which was 

roofed in with matting and had a crew consisting of a man, 

his wife, and a baby. The lake is liable to sudden and 

dangerous storms, which have caused many a boat to be 

swamped and wrecked, but my trip was free from any 

such adventure. The only disagreeable feature of the 

twenty-four hours' voyage was that the baby — only a few 

feet away from me — continued to howl for the greater 

part of the night. 

The Kashmir valley, some 20 miles wide and nearly 
100 miles in length, is justly renowned for its scenery. It 
is enclosed by high, wooded, snow-covered moimtains and 
intersected by numerous streams and lakes, which with a 
profusion of fruit-trees of every species and wild flowers 
of every hue, constitute a picture which cannot weU be 
surpassed in natmral beauty. Srinagar, the " city of the 
sun," is closely cut up with canals, and is sometimes styled 
the Venice of the east. The impression I formed was that 
its delights are more imaginary than real. Its jumbled 
medley of houses, mainly constructed of timber and built 
out of the water, were mostly in a ramshackle and ruinous 
condition, with broken doors or no doors at aU, and 



58 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

windows stopped up with boards, paper, or rags ; the lanes 
between them were narrow, dirty, and ill-paved ; and the 
smells encountered were not savoury. 

On this fringe of civilisation I completed my transport 
and supply arrangements. Besides the food and equipment 
required for the use of myself and followers, com had to be 
carried for the riding and transport animals, httle or none 
being procurable between the Kashmir valley and Gilgit, a 
distance of 228 miles. 

The road connecting Srinagar with Gilgit was good as 
roads go in this part of the world, and on the third 
day's march I crossed the Tragbal Pass, 11,950 feet in 
height. It was covered with a thick carpet of flowers, 
chiefly primulas and orchids, of every colour, and afforded 
a most magnificent view. Behind, thousands of feet 
below, was the broad expanse of the Wular Lake and 
the Kashmir valley, backed by the snow-crested range of 
the Pir Panjal ; and in front, some 50 miles away, could 
be seen the snowy domes of Nanga Parbat, 26,620 feet in 
altitude, towering above the mountain ranges on either hand 
and forming a landmark visible for himdreds of miles. From 
the Tragbal the road descended to and crossed the Kishan- 
ganga, and then a long and severe climb led to the Burzil 
Pass, 13,650 feet high. This pass is easy in summer, but 
is practically closed for the remainder of the year, and 
possesses a bad reputation for severe snowstorms at seasons 
when they are not usually expected. It forms the line of 
demarcation between the forest-clad mountains of the south 
and the bare and arid region of the Hindu Kush to the 
north. 

Some 40 miles farther on I reached Astor, famous for 
its abundance of ibex, markhor, and orial, and claiming 
to be the birthplace of polo or at any rate the land of its 
earhest adoption. The game is played in a rough-and-ready 
manner, and any number of players up to about a score a 
side take part in it. 

From Astor the road followed the river of that name 
down a deep valley enclosed by high and precipitous 
mountains to Ramghat, a ghastly place surrounded on all 
sides by lofty rocks and crags, and in summer-time as hot 



BRIDGES 59 

as a furnace. As Knight says in his book Where Three 
Empires Meet, " A man might almost as well pass his life 
in a stoke-hole as in this infernal oven." The river rushes 
with terrific force and deafening noise through a deep gorge 
150 feet wide, over which the road is carried by the fine 
suspension bridge which shortly before my visit had replaced 
the *' jhula '* or rope-bridge common to the country. 

The ** jhula " is made of three ropes of twisted twigs, 
and is stretched across the river in the form of a triangle, 
two parallel ropes acting as hand-rails and the central or 
lower one as a footway. The three sets of ropes are tied 
together by similar ropes at every few feet, and the whole 
is bound to baulks anchored to high rocks or cliffs on either 
side, and as far as possible on the same level. In order to 
keep the side ropes apart cross-sticks are inserted at varying 
distances, and over these one has to step — a performance 
which calls for a certain amount of acrobatic skill, as the 
side ropes are in places as much as 3 feet above the foot- 
rope. There is a tremendous sag in the middle, and when 
there is a strong wind and the span is large — some are as 
much as 300 feet in length — the bridge is apt to swing 
dizzily about in a manner decidedly trying to the nerves 
of any one not accustomed to this mode of trafiic. Perhaps 
the worst feature of the " jhula " is that one never knows 
whether it may be trusted to carry the weight put upon it, 
as the twigs of which it is made quickly dry and perish, and 
the ropes may then any day suddenly break. 

Where something more substantial than a " jhula " is 
required, a bridge on the cantilever principle is constructed. 
It consists of timbers projecting one over another from the 
opposite banks, their shore ends being weighted down with 
masonry or rocks. In the absence of a bridge of any kind 
the natives cross on a " shinaz," or inflated hide of the ox 
or goat. Striding across this and passing each leg through 
a loop hanging down like a stirrup leather, the rider lays his 
chest upon the hide and plunges into the current, paddling 
with arms and legs as in the act of swimming. Much skill 
and dexterity are required in the management of these httle 
floats to prevent a capsize. The passage of rivers is also 
made on rafts of inflated skins supporting a framework 



6o FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

of light sticks or bamboos. When the shore is left these 
rafts go dancing wildly down stream, while the boatmen, 
armed with long poles, frantically strive to propel them 
across to the opposite bank before being swept past the 
desired landing-place. 

About a quarter of a mile below Ramghat the Astor 
joins the Indus. The road to Gilgit followed the left bank 
of the latter for about fourteen miles, then crossed to the 
right bank by another fine suspension bridge, and than 
along the muddy, boiling Gilgit river to the Gilgit Agency. 
Here I acquired from our officers, about half-a-dozen in 
number, much useful information respecting the countries 
to be traversed before reaching my destination, and while 
supplies were being replenished and other arrangements 
completed for the onward march to the Pamirs I made a 
trip to Hunza, some 60 miles up the valley of that name. 
I covered this distance in two days each way. 

The road up the Hunza vaUey — since greatly improved 
— crossed several glacier torrents and bad " paris." *' Pari '' 
means a cliff, but the word is used to signify a chff road 
strutted or bracketed to the face of a precipice, seldom 
more than a foot or two wide, and often of very shaky and 
sketchy construction. 

The country is noted for the number and size of its 
glaciers, the Nagar river having its source in one of the 
greatest known. A few miles east of the road is the giant 
Rakapushi mountain, which rises sheer 19,000 feet above 
the level of the valley, its height above sea- level being 
25,550 feet. There are several other summits to be seen 
which exceed 24,000 feet. Fruit-trees abound, especially 
the apricot, mulberry, apple, and walnut, and so prolific 
are the crops that the people five to a great extent upon 
them, as also do the animals and fowls. 

To cope with the discomforts which attend a journey 
through the hot valleys in this part of the world the traveller 
needs to be young, and able to sleep soundly after the day's 
work is finished. Flies, of the most tenacious kind, are a 
perfect pest to him ; usually he is afflicted by an insatiable 
thirst which continues well into the night ; the cockroach 
goes to bed with him and climbs up the inside of his pyjamas 



THE FRINGES OF THE EMPIRE 6i 

to make the acquaintance of the caterpillar just fallen on 
his nose from the roof of the tent ; the mosquito searches 
out the most palatable parts of his ankles ; the jungle dog 
enters the tent to ascertain whether anything edible has 
been left on the ground ; and at last the native servant 
appears to announce that morning is here and breakfast 
ready. Having done such justice to the meal as he can, 
got into riding kit, and donned his blue spectacles as a 
protection against the sun's rays reflected from the bare 
and burning rocks, the traveller mounts an animal called 
a pony, and the march is resumed. But the discomforts, 
such as they are, sit lightly on the young and strong ; there 
is much to see of enthralling interest in these wonderful 
outlying regions of the Empire ; and such is the influence 
of the British "raj " that one feels that one is not only 
a man, but, in the eyes of the natives, a sort of king. 

The people of Hunza and Nagar, known as Kanjutis, 
were for centuries professional brigands and slave-dealers. 
So great was the terror inspired by them that whole districts, 
formerly well - cultivated and populated, were totally 
abandoned by their inhabitants. Secure in their mountain 
strongholds, and having ready access to the passes leading 
north to the Yarkand valley, the Kanjutis were able to 
waylay and pillage with impunity the rich caravans travel- 
ling by the great trade route between India and Turkestan, 
and to raid the territory of their neighbours as and when 
they wished. This wholesale brigandage and raiding, as 
weU as the slave-dealing scourge, were effectively put a 
stop to by the introduction of British administrative control 
which followed Colonel Durand's brilliant little Hunza- 
Nagar campaign in the winter of 1891. 

On leaving Gilgit for the Pamirs my party consisted of 
an orderly provided by the 5th Ghurkas, who had accom- 
panied me from India, a Pathan and two servants, eight 
other " followers " of various nationahties, a native guide, 
a dozen mules and ponies, and about a score sheep to 
supply us with meat. The guide claimed to be the " Raja " 
of one of the districts through which we were to pass, but 
unluckily for him some one else not only claimed that title 
but exercised it. I was afraid that this difference of opinion 



62 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

might be the cause of trouble, but it was not, my guide 
probably being regarded by the man in possession as so 
weak a pretender as not to be worth removing. 

From Gilgit to Gupis, 70 miles, the road continued 
up the right bank of the Gilgit river, the valley seldom being 
wider than to give room for the roaring torrent 70 to 100 
yards across and in places running Hke a mill-race. The 
mountain-tops rise high and steep on both sides, and when 
there is heavy rain or the snow is melting it is necessary 
to maintain a sharp look-out for the huge avalanches 
which come tumbling down. I was often kept awake at 
night by the terrific noise, resembhng the sound of heavy 
gun-fire, caused by these masses of rock, weighing many 
tons, plunging down from thousands of feet into the river 
below. 

At Gupis I found a small detachment of Kashmir Imperial 
Service troops, one of the many posts then scattered along 
the route between Astor and Chitral, each commanded by a 
British subaltern or captain. The work done at this period 
by these young and enterprising officers in consolidating 
British influence was of great value, and has perhaps never 
been adequately appreciated. Amongst those whom I met, 
two — Captain Townshend and Lieutenant Fowler — ^were 
destined to play a prominent part the following year in 
the operations in Chitral, and again in the Great War. 
Townshend was in command during the siege of Chitral and 
also at Kut-el-Amara, and Fowler was treacherously made 
prisoner on his way to Chitral. He was lucky not to have 
been murdered by some fanatic or other before Umra Khan 
released him, a month after his capture, and sent him in to 
the headquarters of the Relief Force. In the Great War 
he was Director of the '' signal service " on the West Front. 

A little above Gupis I crossed the Gilgit river by a 
rickety wire suspension bridge and entered the valley of 
Yasin. It was here that the intrepid traveller Hayward 
was murdered in 1870. The object was apparently plunder, 
as he was believed to be in possession of a considerable 
amount of gold as well as many valuable presents. The 
story is that, finding himself threatened, he sat up in 
his tent all night with his loaded rifle on the table before 



DARKOT PASS 63 

him, and in the early morning, being overcome with 
fatigue, he dozed off and was immediately pounced upon 
by his crafty enemies who had been closely watching him 
throughout the night. He asked permission to go outside 
and ascend a low mound in order to take a last look at the 
rising sun, and after this had been granted he was brutally 
done to death. 

For the benefit of those who have not travelled in this 
part of the world, I may explain that passes of 13,000 feet 
and over are closed by snow for some five months or more 
every year, according to their altitude ; when the snow 
begins to melt, and for some weeks afterwards, the streams 
running down from them, and which may have to be crossed 
many times, are roaring torrents, and, as a rule, unfordable ; 
this means, in practice, that the routes may be actually 
open only for two or three months in the year — that is, 
after the streams go down and before the passes again 
become blocked with snow ; and, finally, all passes of 
15,000 feet and over have on them perpetual snow, and 
this must be crossed before the sun has risen sufficiently 
high to make it too soft to traverse. 

Above Yasin, 7300 feet in altitude, the valley is for the 
most part hemmed in by precipitous mormtains thousands 
of feet high ; the debris of many landsHps had to be crossed ; 
and the ever-recurring ascents and descents made progress 
slow and laborious. At 20 miles from Yasin the climb 
up to the Darkot Pass began ; bare rock took the place of 
earth ; and at 14,000 feet the first glacier was reached. 
Having crossed this, the track struck the edge of the snow- 
field, which led up to and over the pass. It was then 
mid- day, and as the hot July sun had made the snow so 
soft and yielding as to be impassable for either men or 
animals, there was nothing to do but to halt for the night 
and resume the journey early next morning when the snow 
would again be frozen hard. 

I spent most of the afternoon in gazing upon the stupen- 
dous mountains which rose before me on all sides, and 
in which culminate the three great water-partings of Central 
Asia — the Hindu Kush, the Himalayas, and the mountains 
of Chinese Turkestan. From this region the melting snows 



64 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

descend eastwards to the Yarkand river and Gobi desert ; 
westwards to the Oxus and the Aral Sea ; and southwards 
to the Indus and Indian Ocean. As far as the eye could 
reach, gigantic peaks, clothed in perpetual snow, soared 
proudly up into the blue heavens at heights of 25,000 feet 
and more above sea-level, and this incomparable array of 
mountain majesty was rendered the more impressive by 
the apparent total absence of Hfe of any kind, and by the 
great stiUness which ever5rwhere prevailed. No house, tree, 
bird, animal, or man was visible, the overpowering solitude 
being broken only by the distant thunder of an occasional 
avalanche, when a grey smoke would ascend to the sky 
showing where the mass of fallen snow had subsided. 
I remained absorbed and appaUed by the magnitude 
of Nature's works, feeling but a very small atom 
in the Universe, imtil a cold shiver told me that the 
sun had disappeared behind the mountain-tops overlooking 
my camp, and that the temperature, according to its 
nightly custom, was rapidly faUing below freezing-point. 
Wrapped up in all the rugs and blankets I possessed, and 
fortified by a hot meal, I lay down for a few hours' rest, 
but it was some time before the sensations of the afternoon 
allowed me to fall asleep. 

The march was resumed at 2 a.m., the going then being 
quite hard and the snow sparkUng in the Ught of a per- 
fectly clear moon hke a vast field of diamonds. The top 
of the pass, 15,200 feet, was reached after four hours' stiff 
climbing. From this point the pass runs either north- 
west over a glacier to the Baroghil Pass, 12,460 feet, 
or north-east over the surface of another glacier to 
the Shawitakh Pass, 12,560 feet. I followed the former, 
reaching the farther edge of the snowfield just as the 
heat of the new sun was causing it again to become soft 
and impassable. I halted for the night on the left 
bank of the Yarkhun river, which has its source in the 
adjacent glaciers and eventually joins the Kabul river 
near Jalalabad under the name of the Kunar. The 
following day I forded this icy-cold stream on the back 
of a yak, my bare feet and legs receiving the coldest bath 
they have ever had. 



THE END OF THE JOURNEY 65 

I was now on the outskirts of the Pamirs — the Roof 
of the World. " Pamir *' signifies a more or less level 
valley of considerable width, and as the lowest of them is 
12,000 feet above sea-level, the cUmate is severe ; in a 
few favoured spots only is there much grass ; trees there 
are none, and even bushes are scarce ; strong, biting winds 
are common, and on the whole the Pamirs cannot be recom- 
mended as a cheerful or comfortable country in which to 
Hve. 

On completion of my work I returned by the Shawitakh 
track, and early in Aug\ist left Gilgit for India, my orders 
being to follow the Indus from Ramghat to Chilas, occupied 
by us the year before, and thence proceed by Khagan to 
Abbott abad. The Indus part of the road was then only in 
course of construction, and there were many difficult stone- 
shoots and swift, dangerous torrents to be negotiated in the 
53 miles to Chilas. Thence to Khagan there was Uttle that 
could be dignified by the name of a road, and the track 
which served as one was in places as bad as it could be. 
The greatest height crossed was at the Babusar Pass, 

i3>585 feet. 

At Abbottabad the little party which had shared my 
wanderings broke up. All the members of it had consist- 
ently served me well since we left Srinagar three months 
before, and a word of gratitude is also due to my 
inteUigent and sure-footed riding mules, who had carried 
me over many perilous mountain sides with far greater 
safety than if I had attempted to traverse them on foot. 

The Gurkha, the only soldier of the party, and a good 
type of his sturdy race, was a well-educated man, and during 
our long marches it had been my custom to converse with 
him in GurkhaU, his native tongue. In this way I acquired 
a sufficient knowledge of it to enable me, before leaving 
Abbottabad, to pass the prescribed examination and so 
bring up the number of oriental languages in which I had 
qualified to a total of six. 



CHAPTER V 

ON THE INTELLIGENCE STAFF OF THE CHITRAL 

RELIEF FORCE 

Punitive expedition sent into Waziristan — In temporary charge of Frontier 
Section — Events leading up to the siege of Chitral Fort — Umra 
Khan of Jandol — Despatch of Chitral Rehef Force from India and 
a detachment from Gilgit — Appointed to Headquarters Staff of the 
Rehef Force — Sir Robert Low — Colonel Bindon Blood — Captain 
Nixon — Nature of country to be traversed — capture of the Mala- 
kand Pass — Action at Khar — Passage of Swat river — Effective 
action of cavalry — Reconnaissances to Panjkora river and towards 
Umra Khan's headquarters — Fine fighting of Guides Infantry — 
Reconnaissance up the Panjkora — Meet Roddy Owen — Advance on 
Miankilai and fhght of Umra Khan — Siege of Chitral is raised — 
Reconnaissance down the Panjkora — Treacherously attacked by 
my two guides — Severely wounded — Sent back to India — Mentioned 
in Despatches and awarded D.S.O. — Promoted Captain — Prepara- 
tion for Staff College Entrance Examination — Nominated for 
entrance — Leave for England — Some reflections on service in India. 

Towards the end of 1894 a brigade of all arms was despatched 
to the borders of the Mahsud Waziri country, and, as had 
happened more than once before in our deahngs with this 
truculent tribe, the camp of the brigade was attacked one 
morning at dawn while the troops were still asleep in their 
tents. We suffered a considerable number of casualties, as 
well as loss of prestige, and it was therefore decided to 
employ a larger force under the command of General Sir 
Wilham Lockhart. Mason joined his staff as head of the 
Intelligence, and Lockhart afterwards appHed for me to 
join it also, but this was not sanctioned as I was required 
to take charge of the North- West Frontier Section pending 
Mason's absence. I was naturally disappointed at losing 
this promising opportunity of seeing active service, but my 
chance — and a better one — was to come shortly on another 
part of the frontier, in Chitral. 

Chitral, one of the mountainous states bordering India 

66 



THE LAW OF SUCCESSION 67 

on the north, is about the size of Wales and has a population 
of upwards of a hundred thousand. Both the state and the 
capital are called by the same name, the capital being some 
60 miles on the Indian side of the main watershed of the 
Hindu Kush. For some years past we had aimed at 
exerting our influence in the state, more especially over its 
external relations, as it was important that we should 
watch the northern passes to which it gives access, and be 
informed of what was taking place there. 

In 1892 the Mehtar, or chief, died, and, as is customary 
in these frontier states, a scramble at once began for the 
Mehtarship. The old Mehtar left behind him seventeen 
sons bom of his four legitimate wives, and of these Afzul- 
ul-MuIk and Nizam-ul-Mulk were supposed to have the 
strongest claims to the succession. Afzul-ul-Mulk, happen- 
ing to be at Chitral at the time, while Nizam-ul-Mulk 
was in Yasin, 150 miles off, at once seized all the arms 
and money in the fort, murdered such of his brothers 
as he could put his hands on who were likely to give him 
trouble, and then started oE to deal with Nizam-ul-Mulk. 
The latter deemed discretion the better part of valour 
and fled for refuge to our Agency at Gilgit, leaving; Afzul- 
ul-Mulk in possession. 

But although the brothers had been disposed of, the 
new Mehtar had still to reckon with an uncle, Sher Afzul 
by name, who, in the years gone by, had unsuccessfully 
tried to oust the old Mehtar and had since been an exile 
in Afghanistan. This individual, thinking that his chances 
were now more promising, suddenly appeared in front of 
Chitral fort, accompanied by a body of horsemen picked up 
en youtey and Afzul-ul-Mulk, on going to the gate to ascer- 
tain what all the noise was about, was shot down, and 
expired immediately afterwards. 

Sher Afzul then became Mehtar, but his reign was of 
even more brief duration, for as soon as Nizam-ul-Mulk 
heard of these events he set out from Gilgit to wrest the 
throne from him. He was joined by many adherents on 
the way, and before he reached Chitral fort Sher Afzul 
threw up the sponge and fled back to Afghan territory as 
rapidly as he had appeared. 



68 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Nizam-ul-Mulk professed himself to be a faithful ally of 
the British Government, and by his request a British officer, 
Captain (now Sir) Frank Younghusband, the well-known 
explorer, was deputed to reside in the country as our 
PoUtical Agent. Affairs then settled down, and it was 
hoped that there would be no further trouble, but on the 
1st January 1895 Nizam-ul-Mulk was shot dead while 
out hawking by a partisan of his brother Amir-ul-Mulk, 
who for the previous two years had been living with Umra 
Khan, the ruler of the neighbouring state of Jandol. 

This restless and ambitious chief had recently extended 
his authority over the Khanate of Dir and a considerable 
part of Swat, both of which marched with his own territory ; 
and thinking that his opportunity had arrived for still 
further extending his dominions he invaded Chitral, osten- 
sibly with the object of supporting his friend Amir-ul-Mulk, 
but with the real intention of annexing the country. There 
was, in fact, reason to beUeve that he was not wholly dis- 
connected with the murder of Nizam-ul-Mulk. He soon 
obtained a footing in the southern districts, and was after- 
wards joined by the persevering Sher Afzul, who again 
turned up from Afghanistan. The two chiefs apparently 
made an agreement to combine forces in expeUing the 
British officers, and then decide who should be the ruler. 
Collecting some 10,000 men they advanced on Chitral 
itself, where, after some sharp skirmishing on the 3rd of 
March, the native troops forming the escort of Surgeon- 
Major (later Sir) G. Robertson were shut up within the 
walls of the fort, and nothing more was heard of them for 
several weeks. 

Surgeon-Major Robertson was our Political Agent at 
Gilgit, and had gone to Chitral at the end of January to 
report on the situation. The besieged garrison consisted of 
100 men of the 14th Sikhs, 300 men of the Kashmir Infantry, 
and about 150 followers and others, the whole being under 
the command of Captain Townshend. If every one were 
put on half rations there were sufficient suppUes of food to 
last till about the end of April, and the ammimition amounted 
to 300 rounds per rifle. 

A few days later a British post of about 50 men was 



THE CHITRAL RELIEF FORCE 69 

captured at Reshun, between Chitral and Mastuj, and 
before the end of March the garrison of Mastuj, consisting 
of 300 men, was besieged. 

These stirring events kept me fairly busy in the Frontier 
Section, but having learned much about the country and its 
inhabitants during my visit to the neighbourhood in the 
previous year, I was able to deal with them far more 
easily than would have been the case had this local know- 
ledge not been acquired. When it became known in India 
that British troops had been attacked by Umra Khan and 
Sher Afzul, and were besieged by them, there was nothing 
to be done but to take immediate steps for their relief. 
The Government of India therefore decided : 

(a) The ist Indian Division, about 15,000 strong, to 
mobihse at Peshawar, move from a southerly direction 
through Swat and Dir, and fall on the rear of Umra Khan. 
This force, designated the " Chitral Rehef Force," to be 
based on Nowshera (near Peshawar), and be under the 
command of Major-General (afterwards Sir) Robert Low. 

(b) A column of 400 men of the 32nd Pioneers (a regular 
Indian native battalion), and two guns of a Kashmir moun- 
tain battery, to move at the same time from the Gilgit 
vicinity, where they then were, and, passing through Mastuj, 
endeavour to reach Chitral from the north. Colonel Kelly 
to command. 

From the southern frontier to Chitral the distance was 
190 miles, and from Gilgit to Chitral 220 miles. The number 
of pack animals required to feed and maintain the " Chitral 
Rehef Force " amounted to nearly 30,000. 

As explained in the preceding chapter, the duties con- 
nected with the management of field operations, which in 
these days belong to the General Staff, were performed at 
the time of which I write by the Intelligence and Mobihsa- 
tion Branches of the Quartermaster-General's department. 
Upon them, therefore, devolved the task of working out 
the plan of operations, and in the case of the Intelligence 
Branch this fell upon my section. When it was finished. 
Sir George White, who had succeeded Lord Roberts as 
Commander-in-Chief, appointed me to the Intelligence Staff 
of the Force, of which the head was Captain (now General 



70 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Sir) John Nixon, i8th Bengal Lancers. The Chief of the 
Staff was Brigadier-General (now Sir) Bindon Blood, and 
from both these officers I received much friendly help during 
the campaign which went far to improve my crude know- 
ledge of staff duties in the field. 

Topographical information of the line of advance was 
vague, and almost entirely derived from native sources. 
Before entering Swat, the first independent country to be 
traversed, a range of rugged hills varying between 3000 
and 6000 feet in height had to be crossed, and although 
these had confronted us for years at only a few miles from 
our boundary no one knew what their difficulties really were, 
or what the country on the other side of them was like. It 
was known, however, that at least four mountain ranges — 
of which the altitude of one varied between 10,000 and 
20,000 feet — and three large rivers, the Swat, Panjkora, and 
Kunar, as well as many smaller streams, had to be crossed ; 
that the route could nowhere be caUed a road ; that the 
intervening coimtry was a hotbed of fanaticism ; and that 
the tribes would almost certainly oppose our advance, 
whatever their subsequent attitude might be. 

While the force was concentrating at Mardan at the 
end of March the intelligence officers were directed to 
obtain as much information as possible regarding the three 
passes giving access to the Swat vaUey — the Mora, Shakot, 
and Malakand — so as to enable the Commander to make 
his plan. By skilful dispositions and the dissemination 
of false intelligence he endeavoured to mislead the enemy 
as to which of the three passes, about seven miles apart, 
would be selected for attack, and he communicated the true 
objective to only the more senior commanders and staff 
officers. 

I was not let into the secret, and on the afternoon of 
the 2nd April the Brigadier of the ist Brigade, which I 
had been ordered to accompany, instructed me to be 
prepared to show the way next morning for the attack on 
the Shakot, opposite to which the brigade had just arrived. 
I had a shrewd suspicion that I was being intentionally 
misinformed, and deemed it wise to be prepared not only 
for going direct to the Shakot but also for making a flank 



CAPTURE OF THE MALAKAND PASS 71 

march across country to the Malakand, which I thought 
would be the real point of attack. I laid my plans accord- 
ingly, and next morning when the brigade was about to 
move off, and I was ordered to conduct it to the Malakand 
and not to the Shakot, I greatly enjoyed seeing the look of 
surprise on the Brigadier's face at the readiness with which 
his order was carried out. 

The enemy's strength at the Malakand was about 12,000 
men, but probably not more than half that number had 
firearms, and of these only a comparatively small proportion 
were rifles, the remainder being old muzzle-loaders which, 
in some cases, were almost as dangerous to the owner as to 
his adversary. The unarmed men were employed in carrying 
away the killed and wounded, and in hurhng down boulders 
upon the assaulting columns. The position itself, running 
along the crest for nearly two miles, was exceptionally 
strong, and was defended on either flank and down the 
forward spurs by a number of '* sangars," or stone 
breast-works. 

The dispositions for the attack were : 2nd Brigade in 
advance, two battalions turning the right flank while the 
two others delivered a frontal attack ; ist Brigade in 
support ; 3rd Brigade in reserve ; three mountain batteries 
of artillery to co-operate with the infantry. As the fight 
progressed the battalions of the ist Brigade were pushed up 
level with those of the 2nd, and just before the crest was 
reached the whole line paused for a few minutes to take 
breath. All being ready, the bugles sounded the advance, 
and, with a great shout, Highlanders, Riflemen, Sikhs, 
Dogras, Guides, Bedfordshires, Scottish Borderers, leaped 
forward and carried the position at the point of the bayonet, 
pursuing the enemy down the further side of the hill as far 
as the village of the Khar. The enemy's total loss was 
estimated at about 1500 men, while ours amounted to 
seventy killed and wounded. 

Some of the enemy displayed the most reckless bravery, 
individual swordsmen and standard-bearers charging madly 
forward, and seeming to bear a charmed fife until at last a 
bullet found its mark. Sometimes a dozen or more would 
start off on their wild career simultaneously, the last man 



72 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

left alive, undaunted by the fate of his comrades, holding 
on till he also fell, perhaps within a few yards of our line. 
I remember one leader in particular who, sword in hand, 
urged on his men from the roof of a hut. Standing out very 
clearly against the sky-hne he drew upon himself a tremen- 
dous fusillade, but although evidently hit several times it 
was long before he was struck down never to rise again. 

The so-called road leading up the pass was abominably 
bad even for pack animals, and many of the troops did not 
receive their suppHes till next morning. The Brigade Staff 
came off no better, and we lay down to sleep supperless. 
Unknown to me till daylight appeared, there were several 
of the enemy's dead within a few feet of the spot where I 
happened to lie — a proof of the haste with which he had 
fled, as his custom is to carry his dead away. 

Next day the ist Brigade took the lead, and after 
descending from the pass was assailed near Khar by several 
thousand tribesmen streaming past its right flank from the 
Shako t and Mora Passes. We had a stiff Httle fight, which 
was brought to a successful conclusion by the charge of a 
squadron of the Guides cavalry. Coming round the end of 
a spur, the squadron suddenly discovered between one and 
two thousand of the enemy in the open, and without a 
moment's hesitation it galloped into them, driving them 
back helter-skelter into the hills. Next morning there was 
no sign of an enemy anywhere. 

Supplies again failed to arrive till late in the evening, 
although another road up the Malakand had been found. 
On this occasion the Brigadier thought that better arrange- 
ments for dinner ought to have been made by our cook — 
a native — and he was accordingly called to account for his 
neglect. The result was most unfortunate, for during the 
night he decamped across the frontier, and next morning 
we found ourselves without a cook of any kind. What 
happened afterwards I cannot say, as the same day I was 
transferred to the 2nd Brigade, which was now ordered to 
resume the lead. 

Three days later the Swat river, half a mile or more in 
width, was forced. It was unbridged, but fordable in certain 
places. The enemy, reinforced by a contingent sent by 



CAVALRY ACTION ^z 

Umra Khan, had so disposed his 5000 men as effectively 
to command the ford where it was expected the passage 
would be attempted. Seeing this, the Brigadier — Waterfield 
— ordered the nth Bengal Lancers, a regiment with a 
deservedly fine reputation, the equally fine regiment of 
Guides cavalry, and the 15th Sikhs to cross by a ford higher 
up. After what had happened at Khar, the prospect of the 
dreaded cavalry falHng upon their flank and rear was too 
much for the defenders, who at once evacuated their position 
and their retirement quickly became a demoraUsed flight, 
the cavalry pursuing them for several miles. The terrifying 
effect produced by the cavalry in the actions at Khar and 
the Swat was quite extraordinary and the news of it spread 
through the country-side for many miles. Unaccustomed 
for the most part to horses, and having exaggerated notions 
as to the power of mounted troops, the enemy never really 
recovered his morale, and the stubborn resistance he offered 
at the Malakand was not again encountered. 

After the passage of the Swat I was sent on with the 
Guides cavalry to reconnoitre the route leading over the 
Laram Range by the Katgola Pass, and thence to Sado on 
the Panjkora river. This was the greatest obstacle we had 
yet met, though it was fordable by all arms on the day of 
my arrival. Two days later, when the 2nd Brigade had 
come up, I was directed to proceed with the cavalry 
to reconnoitre the Jandol valley towards Umra Khan's 
headquarters near Miankilai. We were warmly sniped from 
the neighbouring hills, and as there was evidence to show 
that large numbers of the tribesmen were collecting near 
Miankilai, we returned to Sado after completing a recon- 
naissance of about eight miles and obtaining the required 
information regarding the enemy's movements and the 
practicability of the route. In the morning we had forded 
the Panjkora fairly easily, but when we returned in the 
evening it had risen considerably, the current had become 
very swift, and several horses were lost in recrossing. 

Next morning it had become quite unfordable and equally 
impracticable for swimming, and no further progress was 
possible pending the construction of a bridge or the discovery 
of another ford. As the latter could not be found, the former 



74 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

had to be taken in hand. A rough footbridge was completed 
on the 1 2th, and the Guides infantry were sent across to hold 
the bridgehead, but during the night the river again rose, 
washing the bridge away and leaving the Guides cut off 
from the remainder of the force. A suspension bridge was 
then commenced, and took four days to complete. 

Meanwhile, on the 13th, the Guides went beyond the 
bridgehead in order to burn certain villages which had been 
harbouring "snipers" engaged in firing on our working 
parties, and when about to return the battaUon was attacked 
by some 5000 tribesmen who had collected together on 
hearing of its isolated position. For some time the situation 
appeared critical, the enemy coming on in the most deter- 
mined way, but the Guides splendidly upheld their reputa- 
tion, and, moving as steadily as if on parade, slowly fought 
their way back to their entrenchments and there came imder 
the shelter of the guns and troops posted on the left bank 
of the river. Unfortunately the battalion lost its gallant 
commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Battye. A small 
reinforcement was sent across on rafts, as it was expected 
that the enemy would renew the attack during the night. 
It later transpired that this was his intention, but the 
discharge of some star shells by a mountain battery so 
alarmed him that he drew off, and no further molestation 
was attempted. 

While waiting for the bridge to be completed I was sent 
with a squadron of the nth Bengal Lancers and half a 
battalion of the Buffs to reconnoitre the left bank of the 
Panjkora up to Robat, being accompanied by that fine 
soldier and splendid horseman Roddy Owen. When 
hostilities first broke out Roddy was stationed at Quetta, 
and Hke many other officers he at once appUed for employ- 
ment. As this was not given he asked for and obtained 
ten days' leave, and of this he took advantage to join the 
Relief Force as a newspaper correspondent. When his 
leave expired the Simla authorities issued instructions 
directing him to return to India, but Roddy contrived on 
one plea or another to stay where he was, and at last Simla 
gave up the contest. He remained with the Force till the 
conclusion of the campaign, and afterwards made a journey 



CHITRAL RELIEVED 75 

from Chitral to the Pamirs. This was not a bad performance 
on the basis of ten days' leave, and was typical of Roddy's 
methods of getting his own way. 

On the 17th the cavalry and 3rd Brigade, now in front, 
crossed the Panjkora, dispersed a miscellaneous gathering of 
the enemy in the Jandol valley, and on arrival at Miankilai 
learnt that Umra Khan had thrown his hand in and fled to 
Afghanistan. A day or two later the unlucky Sher Afzul, 
with 1500 followers, was captured by our ally the Khan of 
Dir. He was subsequently sent to India. 

Pushing on from Miankilai, the advanced troops crossed 
the Janbatai Pass (7400 feet high) on the 19th, and arrived 
at Dir on the 21st, where news was received that the siege 
of Chitral had been raised three days before. This was the 
natural corollary of the successful advance of the Relief 
Force, and the main object of the campaign had thus been 
achieved within about a month of the date on which the 
order for mobilisation was given. From the first the enemy 
had been out-matched by our superior armament and 
organisation, but we had, apart from him, many diffi- 
culties to contend against, and the commander and his 
troops well deserved the high praise officially bestowed 
upon them. 

The Gilgit detachment, which reached Chitral on the 
20th April, had also achieved a great triumph. Composed 
entirely of native troops, with the exception of a handful 
of British officers, it had marched 220 miles through the 
highest mountain system in the world, when the country 
was inflamed with news of the rebellion, and at a season 
when the weather was still severe and the passes deep in 
snow, one of those traversed being 12,400 high. 

Finally, neither the efforts of the Relief Force, nor those 
of the Gilgit detachment, could have availed but for the 
gallantry and cheerful endurance displayed by the invested 
garrison in holding out for forty-seven days until help 
arrived. In this case, again, all the troops were natives 
except a few British officers, and the siege will always rank 
as one of the finest episodes in the annals of the Indian 
Army. As to its intrepid commander. Captain Townshend, 
I imagine that he learnt many things which proved useful 



76 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

to him twenty years later in the still more famous siege 
of Kut-el-Amara. 

Chitral being relieved and the enemy having dispersed, 
nothing remained for the Relief Force to do except to send 
on from Dir sufficient troops to consolidate order in the 
country, and open up permanent means of communication 
with India. The route followed by them presented extra- 
ordinary difficulties, especially at the Lowarai Pass (10,450 
feet high and covered with snow), and required extensive 
improvements before transport animals could use it. 

While this final movement was taking place I was ordered 
to report on the practicability of the road leading from Dir 
down the Panjkora to Robat, the place to which I had 
already made a reconnaissance up the same river from Sado. 
A company of the 4th Gurkhas was given me as escort, and 
the Khan of Dir provided two guides, who were said to be 
specially trustworthy men, one of them being known as the 
** Kazi." For the first two marches they were everything 
that could be desired, and most helpful both as to their 
knowledge of the country and in obtaining local supplies of 
food, but later they were not so satisfactory. 

I was suffering from dysentery at the time, and on the 
third day's march gave my sword to the " Kazi " to carry 
as I was unable to bear its weight round my waist. Being 
mounted, I gradually forged ahead of the escort, and was 
followed by the two guides only. Suddenly, and to my 
utter amazement, I was twice fired at from behind, and 
could not imagine what had happened. Looking round I 
saw the " Kazi " rising from his knee, and in the act of 
throwing aside the smoking 12-bore breech-loader which 
he had been carrying since we left Dir, preparatory to 
achieving with his sword — or rather my sword — what he 
had failed to accomplish with his gun, for although he 
could not have been more than ten yards away when he 
fired he had missed me with both barrels. He was yelling 
with the fury of a madman, and I realised that he had 
become " ghazi " — a rehgious fanatic — not an uncommon 
occurrence on the frontier. The goat-track on the steep 
hillside along which I was riding would not permit me to 
move to the right or left, or to turn the pony round so as 



AWARDED THE " D.S.O." 77 

to face my man, and the only alternative was to dismount. 
In doing this I stumbled and fell, the result being that I 
was in a half -sitting position when the " Kazi " arrived at 
close quarters and proceeded to slash wildly at me. As 
there was neither time nor opportunity to draw my revolver 
while this vigorous sword practice was taking place, I could 
only scramble to my feet and floor the fellow with my fist. 
Just as I did this I observed that the other so-called guide, 
kneeUng on one knee a few yards away, was waiting his 
opportunity to fire the moment he could do so without 
hitting his companion. Whilst my attention was distracted 
in this way the " Kazi " jumped up and the pair of them 
made off. Pulhng out the revolver at last, I brought down 
the *' Kazi " as he was in the act of flying up the hillside, 
and then I remembered no more till the Gurkhas arrived, 
they having hastened to the spot on hearing the sound 
of firing. They picked up the " Kazi," who had been hard 
hit but not killed, and a native hospital orderly did his 
best temporarily to patch up my wounds, which were later 
officially classed as " severe " but were not really serious. 

We then commenced the return march to Dir, where the 
" Kazi," who turned out to be an adherent of Umra Khan, 
in whose service he had previously been, was tried by 
court-martial and sentenced to be shot and his body burnt. 
The sentence was carried out by a sergeant and six men of 
a Highland battalion — I forget which. I thought at the 
time, and still think, that however indifferent a marksman 
the " Kazi " may have been, he could not possibly have 
missed me with both barrels at so short a range but for 
the direct intervention of Providence. 

On becoming fit to travel I was sent back to India, 
and my connection with the Chitral Rehef Force terminated. 
A " mention in despatches " and the award of the 
Distinguished Service Order, then a rather rare decoration, 
tended to alleviate, but did not entirely dispel, the morti- 
fication I felt at not having put up a more finished fight 
and accounted for both my assailants. I was chaffed a 
good deal at the time for having been cut about with my 
own sword, and for not acting up to the standard displayed 
at the Rawal Pindi assault-at-arms. I deserved to be chaffed. 



78 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

While serving with the Rehef Force I became Captain 
in the ordinary course of regimental promotion, and was 
unusually lucky in reaching that rank in less than seven 
years after being commissioned. 

After resuming duty in the Intelligence Branch at the 
end of the summer of 1895 I began to realise, as a result 
of a talk with my friend Mason, the necessity of graduating 
at the Staff College, for without that qualification my 
future professional advancement was doubtful. About 
thirty officers were admitted to the college annually, 
three-fourths of this number by open competition and 
the remainder, conditional on qualifying at the entrance 
examination, by selection. The examination was not very 
difficult, but it embraced many subjects — mathematics, 
military engineering, military topography, tactics, military 
history, strategy, military geography, military administra- 
tion, military law, and a knowledge of two foreign languages, 
of which one must be either French or German. 

As a rule competition was very keen, and therefore 
prospective candidates usually spent several weeks and even 
months at one of the cramming establishments in London 
which specialised in this branch of military education. As 
there were no such establishments in India, officers stationed 
in that country invariably took leave to England so as to 
obtain the help they needed. I could not get leave, nor could 
I afford to throw up my staff appointment in order to return 
home, and consequently there was nothing for it but to do 
without expert assistance. 

I decided to take Hindustani, which I knew fairly well, 
as one of the two languages ; knowing nothing of German 
I selected French as the second, and, knowing very little 
of it, I enlisted the aid of a Frenchwoman who happened 
to be employed at Simla. My wife also took a hand in this 
subject, and in addition showed exemplary patience in 
hearing me recite the propositions of Euclid. For mathe- 
matics in general I procured the help of a local schoolmaster ; 
and, lastly, I received many useful hints from Lieutenant 
(now Major-General) Holman, who was also on the head- 
quarters staff and was himself working for the examination 
preparatory to going home to complete his studies. For 



RETURN TO ENGLAND 79 

the rest I had to rely on my own resources, and they were 
rather a broken reed, for such meagre knowledge as I then 
possessed about some of the subjects was entirely self- 
acquired. Ten months were available in which to prepare 
for the examination, and I was oppressed with the thought 
that I had but the one chance of getting into the college, 
because by the time the next examination came round I 
would be over the regulation age for admission. 

It will be understood from all this that the period of 
preparation was neither easy nor devoid of anxiety, but 
by rising regularly every morning between four and five 
o'clock, in winter as in summer, I was able to get through 
a large amount of spade work, crude and ill-directed though 
it might be, before going to ofl&ce for the day. Progress was 
naturally both slow and doubtful, for having no one to guide 
me I approached my tasks by the most roundabout way, 
and when completed there was often no certainty that the 
results were correct. 

In due course the fateful examination, lasting ten days, 
arrived, and perseverance then had its reward. I qualified 
in all subjects, and as I just missed securing one of the 
competitive vacancies Sir George White came to the rescue 
and recommended me for one of the vacancies to be filled 
by selection. Lord Wolseley, the Commander-in-Chief at 
home, approved, and in December 1896 I started with my 
wife and five months' old child for England. The voyage 
was very unpleasant, rough weather prevailing almost 
continuously. The nurse was the worst sailor of the party, 
next to myself, and succumbed as soon as we started, and 
in our cabin ! Fortunately the man-servant of the officer 
occupying the adjoining cabin was an obliging person, and 
undertook to look after the child during my wife's absence 
at meals. He had once been a prize-fighter ! 

My eight years' experience in India prompts me to say 
that a certain amount of service in this great dependency 
is an essential part of the education of every young officer. 
It broadens his views ; brings him into contact with the 
native troops of the Indian army, by the side of whom he 
may sooner or later be called upon to fight ; and affords 
him opportunities for seeing training conducted under more 



8o FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

practical conditions than usually prevail in England. On 
the other hand, if it is unduly prolonged physical energy 
may deteriorate, with a corresponding loss in military 
capacity, and there will also be a tendency to become 
antiquated and stereotyped in method, owing to the difficulty 
of keeping pace with the development of mihtary ideas in 
Europe. Modem means of communication have helped to 
diminish these dangers, but they have not entirely removed 
them and never can, and everything possible should therefore 
be done by those in authority to ensure that the army in 
India maintains close touch with the army at home. In 
principle this is now generally recognised, but in practice 
the recognition is not so apparent, and not a few obstruct- 
ive prejudices and old-fashioned notions must be uprooted 
before the two armies can be brought into that intimate 
relationship which Imperial efficiency demands. 



} JOURNEY TO PAMIRS 1894 
RAL EXPEDITION 1895. 




le 1 Inch = 45 Miles. 

so 

I 



100 



nee 



ii^ 



n of Government of India- 



CHAPTER VI 

STUDENT AT THE STAFF COLLEGE 

Colonel Hildyard — His views on the education of officers — Nature of the 
Staff College course — Colonel Henderson — Lord Roberts' apprecia- 
tion of him — First year's work at the college — Go to France to learm 
the language — Second year's work — Visit to battlefields of 1870 war 
— Visit the Meuse Valley and Belgian Ardennes — Umpire at army 
manoeuvres — Sir H. Brackenbury — Inspection of Staff College by 
Lord Wolseley — Value of Staff College training. 

I JOINED the Staff College in January 1897 and was, I 
believe, the first officer promoted from the ranks to enter 
it as a student, though others have done so since. The 
Commandant was Colonel (afterwards Lieutenant-General 
Sir) H. Hildyard, Colonel (now Lieutenant-General Sir) 
H. Miles succeeding him in 1898. Up to 1893, when 
Hildyard assumed command, too much importance seems 
to have been attached to the mere accumulation of know- 
ledge and to preparation for written examinations, and the 
capacity of the students on leaving the college was estimated 
mainly by the number of marks gained in these examinations. 
Everybody knows that the best performer on paper is not 
always — one might say is not usually — ^the most proficient 
in the field, and as Hildyard held strong views on the 
impossibility of producing or discovering the best officers 
by means of written examinations alone he gave the 
curriculum a more practical character. In order to test 
their powers of application the students were constantly 
employed in the study of concrete questions regarding 
organisation and administration, and in solving strategical 
and tactical problems both in quarters and out of doors. 
Hildyard proposed the entire abolition of written examina- 
tions by outside examiners, and although this was not 
sanctioned the examinations were restricted to the first 

81 G 



82 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

year. Since then the students have been classified at the 
end of the second year according to the quality of their 
work throughout the course, and to the opinion formed by 
the Instructional Staff as to the likelihood of their becoming 
capable leaders and staff officers. 

There were five military instructors or " professors," 
as they were then called — one for strategy and tactics, one 
for artillery and fortifications, one for administrative duties, 
and two for topography, as well as two for languages — 
French and German. Topography was the subject which 
the students hked least, and undoubtedly a good deal of 
time and temper were expended in making intricate " scales " 
which would never be required on service, in learning to 
draw the conventional signs for trees, churches, pubUc- 
houses, and other topographical features, according to scale, 
and in chasing five-feet contours round the undulations of 
groimd near the college, none of which were more than 
a hundred feet above the general level. 

This seeming waste of effort was not without excuse, 
for some ofiicers had but a hazy notion of how to make or 
read a map, and were not much surer of themselves in regard 
to the working of the magnetic compass. All this has been 
changed by having a better system of military education 
from the beginning, and the cadets at Sandhurst and 
Woolwich are now as proficient as were many of the 
students at the Staff College twenty-five years ago. 

The professor of strategy and tactics was Lieutenant- 
Colonel G. F. Henderson, the author of Stonewall Jackson, 
Spicheren, and other military books and essays. " Hender,*' 
as he was familiarly known to us, was a past-master in his 
work, and his lovable and unselfish companionship was of 
itself a moral and professional education of Ufe-long benefit. 
He was devoted to his pupils and, as Hildyard wrote of 
him some years later, " There was no paper, however crude, 
wherein he did not notice points for encouragement towards 
renewed effort ; so there was no paper, however complete, 
to which his practical and weU-thought-out remarks did 
not add value. To him it was a labour of love, and each 
memoir, good or indifferent, received the same measure of 
attention from him." 



LIEUT.-COLONEL G. F. HENDERSON 83 

About the time I joined the college Henderson first 
became the intimate friend of Lord Roberts, who tells us 
that he " formed a very high opinion of his abilities " and, 
like many others, ** succumbed to the spell of his fascinating 
personality/' The characteristically warm-hearted memoir 
which the Field-Marshal wrote in after years as a fore- 
word to the posthumous publication of Henderson's Science 
of War, is perhaps the best appreciation extant. It is 
much too long to reproduce here, but I may quote the 
following : 

The affectionate tributes to Henderson's memory by his 
many friends are a testimony to his pure and stainless character. 
Blessed with a cheerful temperament, he brightened the lives of 
all with whom he was associated, and his letters display a spirit 
of playful tenderness towards those whom he loved, which is most 
attractive. Generous and thoughtful for others, he took no 
thought for himself, and only valued money for what it might 
have enabled him to do for those who needed his help. 

The influence of such a man must bear good fruit, and the 
more widely his writings are read, and the more closely his 
teachings are followed, the more successful will be our would-be 
commanders, and the better it will be for England when again 
she is forced to go to war. 

That the prophecy contained in the last sentence was 
well fulfilled, the reader will, I think, agree when I say that 
amongst the students who passed through Henderson's 
hands between 1892 and 1899 were Haig, Allenby, and 
scores of others whose names became household words in 
the Great War; and all these officers would, I am sure, 
readily admit that such successes as attended their leader- 
ship were largely due to the soimd instruction and inspiring 
counsel which they received from their old tutor some 
twenty years or so before. Of the different causes which 
are alleged to have given us the victory over Germany, 
not one should be assigned a more prominent place than 
the influence and teaching of Henderson at the Staff 
College. 

Having passed into the college without the help of a 
crammer I was anxious as to how my work there would 
compare with that of the other officers, and so I told the 



84 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

commandant at the first interview I had with him after 
joining. His encouraging reply was that the lack of this 
form of education need not necessarily be a handicap, as 
" We do not want any cramming here ; we want officers to 
absorb, not to cram " ; and except in a few insignificant 
details, which I soon made good, I never felt at a dis- 
advantage because of being differently equipped at the 
start from my contemporaries. 

The first year's work was mainly of an elementary 
nature, and for the most part — though not entirely — ^was 
interesting and practical, and it formed a useful foundation 
for the more advanced studies of the second year. It was 
compulsory to '' pass " in either French or German, and on 
the advice of our excellent French professor, M. Deshumbert, 
whom we all adored, I spent the summer vacation of two 
months with a family in France, French being the language 
I had selected. 

On crossing over to France I left Newhaven at midnight, 
intending to embark on the boat going to Caen, where it 
was due to arrive about eight o'clock next morning. To 
my surprise I woke at four o'clock to find that the boat had 
already reached port, and then discovered that I had 
carelessly gone aboard the boat for Dieppe, which left 
Newhaven at the same hour as the one for Caen, where my 
bicycle and luggage, having been registered in London, 
had of course gone. 

It was a great tax on my limited knowledge of French 
to explain to the ticket-collector why, having a ticket for 
Caen, I had come to Dieppe. I afterwards spent some ten 
hours in travelling across country by a very indifferent 
railway route, changing trains no fewer than six times, to 
the port where my belongings had gone and which was 
quite near to my destination — the small provincial town of 
Vire. I learnt more French that day than at any time 
during my two months in the country, as the " Pasteur " 
with whom I stayed and studied did not put in an appear- 
ance until dejeuner, and even then was apt to be drowsy 
except when roused by an objectionable habit of coughing. 
Another thing I remember about the visit is that there was 
no bath in the house, and it was only after diligent search 



THE BATTLEFIELDS OF 1870 85 

in the town that one was at last procured from a shop 
which dealt in antiques ! 

At the end of the year I " passed " in French, missing the 
" interpretership " by six marks out of the six hundred and 
twenty required to qualify. For this I had to wait till 
the following year. All the other examinations were 
successfully negotiated, as indeed they ought to be, for 
they were not difl&cult. Of the examiners who came to 
the college on this occasion was an officer who had un- 
successfully competed at the entrance examination the 
previous year — an incident which caused us much amuse- 
ment, seeing that we, who had succeeded in securing 
vacancies, were being examined by one who had failed to do 
so. He appreciated the humorous side of the matter as 
much as we did, and I should add that no one doubted his 
competence to examine us in the particular subject for 
which the War Office had appointed him. 

Early the following summer the senior division — as the 
officers in their second year are called — ^made the customary 
visit to the principal battlefields of the 1870 war — Woerth, 
Spicheren, Vionville, and Gravelotte — under the guidance 
of Henderson. These visits enabled us to picture on the 
ground itself the operations which took place, and to grasp 
the lessons they taught far better than could be done by 
merely reading about them. 

When visiting the battlefield of Woerth we stayed at 
Niederbronn, a small spa prettily situated in the Vosges. 
It was much frequented by the Germans in summer, and 
by German officers from Bitche and other neighbouring 
places. The hotel proprietor, now dead, was a French 
Alsatian. He told us much about the French retreat from 
Woerth, which passed through Niederbronn, and was far 
from being in love with his new masters, or they with him. 
It was perhaps deemed poHtic that his daughter should 
marry a German, but the arrangement has since been badly 
upset by the reversion of Niederbronn to the French, and 
madame gave me the impression that she was painfully 
aware of the fact when I went there two years ago. 

In company with Captain (now Lieut.-General Sir) G. 
Barrow of the Indian Cavalry I left England some days in 



86 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

advance, in order to see certain places of interest before join- 
ing the main party at Metz. We first went to Waterloo and 
Ligny, and afterwards spent a few days in the Belgian 
Ardennes and Meuse valley, which was already recognised 
as a probable Hne of operations in the event of war between 
Germany and France. The forts d'arret at Liege and 
Namur — twelve at the former and nine at the latter — had 
been constructed some years before with the object of 
blocking, or at any rate of temporarily checking, an advance 
by this line. 

One night we stayed at Marche, a smaU Belgian town 
south of Huy, where we experienced some difficulty in 
finding accommodation, and the hotel where we eventually 
found quarters could only produce one room. What was 
still more inconvenient, the room contained but one bed, 
which the landlady wished Barrow and myself to share, 
and she apparently thought we were making an unnecessary 
fuss about a very small matter when we insisted upon having 
a bed each. To add to our troubles during this day, or 
rather to Barrow's, he lost his only pipe, which in the 
case of any one but him would have meant the loss of 
temper also. 

In September I was detailed with other ofiicers of the 
senior division for emplojnnent on the umpire staff at 
the army manoeuvres, which took place in the vicinity of 
SaHsbury Plain. The opposing forces consisted of an army 
corps each, respectively commanded by the Duke of 
Connaught and Sir Redvers BuUer, this being the first 
time for twenty-six years that manoeuvres had been held. 
At the end of the first day I was sent for by Sir Henry 
Brackenbury, who was chief umpire of one side, and with 
whom I had become acquainted when at Simla. He told me 
that he was dissatisfied with the way in which the umpire 
duties were being performed, as he was unable to obtain 
from the cavalry the early and complete reports regarding the 
operations which he required ; and he directed me to leave 
the cavalry regiment to which I was then attached and under- 
take the duty of procuring for him the information he wanted. 
How I got it he said he did not care, but that he " must 
have it, and have it in time." There was no reason why 



SIR HENRY BRACKENBURY 87 

he should not, for it was simply a question of organisation, 
and of putting more life and activity into certain individuals 
on the umpire staff, who were inclined to look upon the 
manoeuvres as a kind of glorified picnic in which they could 
share as much or as little as they desired. I introduced 
the necessary organisation, took effective, albeit somewhat 
disagreeable, steps to " get a move on " amongst the in- 
dividuals mentioned, and it then became quite easy to 
meet Brackenbury's wishes. 

I thought no more of the matter until he sent for me on 
the night the manoeuvres terminated, when, taking my arm, 
he walked me up and down between the rows of tents for 
about half an hour, making in the course of our conversation 
some compHmentary remarks about the assistance I had 
given him, and finished by saying that if at any time I 
stood in need of help he would gladly give it. Some years 
later I did need it, and he was then as good as his word. 
Like most men in high positions he had his detractors, and 
was thought by some people to be harsh and overbearing. 
It is true, I think, that he did not suffer fools gladly, but 
he always struck me as being genuinely kind-hearted, and 
he was rightly regarded as one of the most capable and 
progressive soldiers of his time. 

About the middle of December, Lord Wolseley made his 
usual annual inspection of the college, saying a few en- 
couraging words to each officer in turn, and expressing his 
appreciation of their work as reported to him by the com- 
mandant. This was the last parade for those of us who 
belonged to the senior division, and we afterwards dis- 
persed to the four quarters of the globe, pleased to feel, or 
rather hoping, that we had gained the coveted letters 
P.S.C. (passed Staff College) — a matter that would not be 
known to us for certain till a few weeks later. But we had 
also a feeling of regret, for we had invariably received the 
utmost consideration and assistance from the commandant 
and his staff, while the students with whom we had been 
associated were, as always, some of the best fellows in the 
service. 

We had been worked hard, but plenty of time was 
allowed for recreation, and, like all Staff College graduates, 



FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

many happy as well as amusing recollections of cricket, 
key, and especially of the drag. In bidding good-bye 
ach other none of us imagined that in less than a year 
would again be working together, and putting into 
:tice on the South African veld the lessons we had learned 
a " Hender " and the other professors at Camberley. 
htly or wrongly, we felt ourselves capable of competing 

I whatever task the future might have in store for us ; 
the same self-confidence would not have been lacking 
we known that in less than sixteen years some of us 

lid be among the chief actors in the greatest drama the 
Id has ever seen — the Great War. 

This good opinion of ourselves should not be classed as 
:eit, for no soldier possessing an atom of sense, or having 
remotest conception of the difficulties and uncertainties 
:h attend the conduct of war, will dare to boast, even 
dmself, of what he thinks he can do. It was merely an 
itration of the sa3dng that " knowledge is power," and 
Ned that the training received by the Staff CoUege 
er gives him a measure of self-rehance which he probably 
not possess before, and which, if appropriately used, 
lid be of great value to him in the future. 
The Staff College does not aspire to make wise men out 
ools, or to achieve any other impossibihties, and, like 
;r educational institutions, it has had its failures. It 
however, and does, make good men better, broaden 
r views, strengthen their powers of reasoning, improve 
r judgment, and in general lay the foundations of a 
ul miUtary career. Further, the benefits of the course 
by no means confined to the lectures the students are 
;n, or to the instructional exercises in which they take 
:, for in addition there is a smartening friction with 

II brains, and officers are enabled to rub shoulders with 
;rs of their own standing with whom they may have to 
k later in Ufe. Haig, Allenby, Murray, Milne, Capper, 
dng, Barrow, Forestier-Walker, and others who filled 
ortant posts in the Great War were amongst my con- 
poraries, and this personal acquaintance was very useful 
ne, as no doubt it was to them, when I was Chief of 
General Staff in France in 19 15, and still more so when 



VALUE OF STAFF COLLEGE 89 

Chief of the Imperial General Staf from the end of 1915 to 
the beginning of 1918. 

Again, at the college are to be found representatives of 
practically every branch of the British and Indian armies 
and the forces of the Overseas Dominions. There are few 
parts of the Empire that have not been visited at one time 
or another by some member of the staff or by one of the 
students, and the interchange of the various experiences 
acquired is most valuable. 

Another advantage of the course is that the students 
are taught the same basic principles of strategy and tactics, 
and are accustomed to employ the same methods of adminis- 
tration. It is necessary in any business that the men 
responsible for its administration should abide by the 
same rules, follow the same procedure, and be fully ac- 
quainted with the best means for ensuring smoothness 
and despatch ; and nowhere is the necessity greater than 
in the business of war, where friction, delay, and mis- 
apprehension are fraught with so many possibiUties of 
mischief. It is only by the estabhshment of a sound 
system with which all officers are thoroughly famihar that 
these rocks can be avoided. As an illustration of the 
benefit conferred by a common school of training, I may 
mention that from the time Maude took over the chief 
command in Mesopotamia to the day of his death, and 
although all communication between us was conducted 
by telegraph, the local situation being difficult, precarious, 
and changing, not a single misimderstanding occurred 
between him as Commander-in-Chief and myself as Chief 
of the Imperial General Staff, nor did we ever fear that one 
would occur. 

The same good results were obtained in similar circum- 
stances in my deahngs with Milne in Macedonia, AUenby in 
Egypt, and Monro in India, and I beUeve these officers were 
as satisfied at their end of the wire as I was at mine. In the 
case of Haig the exchange of views and the transmission of 
the War Cabinet's instructions were comparatively easy, 
since we could meet at frequent intervals and discuss matters 
verbally ; but here, also, the work of both of us was facili- 
tated by our Staff CoUege training, and, as with aU the other 



90 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

commanders I have mentioned, there was never, so far as I 
know, any material difference of opinion between us in 
regard to the main principles to be observed in order to 
win the war. That the mutual agreement and excellent 
comradeship established between Staff College graduates 
during the twenty years previous to 1914 were of inestimable 
value to the Empire throughout the Great War is, in my 
humble belief, beyond contradiction. 

Lest I should be misunderstood I hasten to add that no 
one more fully recognises than myself that there are many 
good and even briUiant soldiers who are not Staff College 
graduates. They deserve, indeed, the greater credit for 
what they have achieved, because of the drawbacks against 
which they have had to contend. I know that they have 
felt the weight of these drawbacks, for they have told me 
so, and regretted that they had not enjoyed the benefit 
of two years' study at the college, and the equally 
beneficial exchange of ideas with men who, hke themselves, 
meant to rise in their profession. I would therefore warn 
all young officers who wish to make their mark and serve 
their country well, that they may one day incur a consider- 
able handicap if they fail to take advantage of the assistance 
which is afforded by the Staff College course. 



CHAPTER VII 

ON THE INTELLIGENCE STAFF, WAR OFFICE 

Posted to the Intelligence Division, War Office — Sir John Ardagh — Status 
of the Division — Its duties — Mr. Stanhope's memorandum regard- 
ing military pohcy — Hartington Commission recommends appoint- 
ment of a Chief of the Staff — Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman 
dissents — Recommendation not carried out — Effect of this in South 
African War — Colonial Defence Committees — Work in the Russian 
Section — Appointed Staff Captain in the Colonial Section — Captain 
Altham — Description of Colonial Empire — Work in the Colonial 
Section — Effect of our general unreadiness for war in regard to the 
South African situation — War declared against the South African 
Repubhcs — Forecast of cost of war — Sir George White sent to 
command in Natal — Altham goes with him and I take charge of 
the Colonial Section — Early developments in the war — Dependence 
on the Press for information — Reverses at Stormberg, Magersf ontein, 
and Colenso — Buller suggests abandonment of attempt to reheve 
Ladysmith — Am consulted by a Cabinet Minister as to what should 
be done — Recommend appointment of Commander-in-Chief as 
distinct from the Commander in Natal — Defence Committee of 
Cabinet appoint Lord Roberts, with Lord Kitchener as Chief of 
Staff — Proceed to South Africa to join the staff of Lord Roberts. 

On leaving the Staff College officers usually return to regi- 
mental duty for at least a year before being employed on the 
staff, so that they may again be brought into touch with 
troops, but occasionally the rule is not observed. It was 
not in my case, for in order to meet the temporary want of 
an officer with staff experience in India I was sent direct to 
the InteUigence Branch of the War Office, then located at 
29 Queen Anne's Gate, and presided over by Major-General 
Sir John Ardagh. 

When first formed in 1873 it was a branch of the Quarter- 
master-Generars department ; later it was placed under the 
Adjutant- General ; and was, when I joined it, more or less 
under the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Wolseley. It had a 
stafi of about sixteen officers and, with the " Mobilisation 

91 



92 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Section " of three or four officers, was the only semblance 
of a General Staff then in existence. The Mobilisation 
Section had originally been under the Director of Military 
Intelligence, was afterwards absorbed by the Adjutant- 
General's department, and then, like the Intelligence Branch, 
came under the Commander-in-Chief. Thus it will be seen 
that the two branches had been constantly tossed over 
from one high official to another, apparently in accordance 
with the predominant view or personality of the moment. 

The Intelligence Branch was responsible for the collection 
and collation of military information regarding foreign 
countries, but it was not the recognised duty of the branch, 
or of any other, scientifically to study the information so 
collected and make it the basis of our own requirements. 
This basis had been fixed in a memorandum by Mr. 
Stanhope of the ist June 1888, and it still held the field. 
According to it our army requirements had for their object 
the support of the civil power in the United Kingdom, the 
provision of men for the garrison of India and our fortresses 
and coaling stations at home and abroad, and, in addition, 
the ability to mobiUse for home defence two army corps 
of regular troops, one army corps of regulars and militia 
combined, and the auxiliary forces not allotted to these 
three corps. Subject to these considerations, and their 
financial obhgations, a further aim was to be able to send 
abroad, in case of necessity, two complete army corps, but, 
said the memorandum, " It will be distinctly understood 
that the probabihty of the emplo57ment of an army corps 
in the field in any European war is sufficiently improbable 
to make it the primary duty of the military authorities 
to organise efficiently for the defence of this country." To 
Mr. Stanhope's instruction regarding the " improbable prob- 
ability " of the employment of even one army corps in any 
European war may therefore fairly be attributed the fact 
that our mobihsation arrangements dealt principally with 
home defence, and that broad military plans essential for 
the defence of the Empire as a whole received no adequate 
treatment in the War Office of that period. 

Two years after the date of Mr. Stanhope's memorandum, 
a majority of the Hartington Commission recommended the 



SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN 93 

creation of a new War Office department under a *' Chief 
of the Staff," who was to devote himself entirely to collecting 
information, to thinking out great military problems, and 
to advising the Secretary of State for War on matters of 
" general miUtary poUcy." Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, 
one of the Commissioners and Secretary of State for War 
from 1892 to 1895, dissented from the recommendation, 
and expressed the view that the new department was 
** unnecessary," and that although it existed in continental 
countries " those countries differ fundamentally from Great 
Britain " in that they were " concerned in watching the 
military conditions of their neighbours, in detecting points 
of weakness and strength, and in planning possible opera- 
tions in possible wars against them. But in this country 
there is in truth no room for a * general mihtary policy ' 
in this larger and more ambitious sense of the phrase. We 
have no designs against our European neighbours." It 
seems to have been overlooked, or was too inconvenient to 
be admitted, that these same neighbours might have designs 
against us, at any rate in the future even if they had none 
then, and that the security of the Empire demanded that 
the Government should be furnished with considered 
mihtary opinions on which to frame their plans of defence. 

Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman was at a loss to know 
where the new department " could find an adequate field 
in the circumstances of this country," and was " afraid 
that while there would be no use for the proposed office 
there might be in it some danger to our best interests. All 
that is in fact required for our purposes can be amply 
obtained by an adequately-equipped Intelligence Branch 
which, under the direction of the Adjutant-General, could 
collect aU necessary information, and place it at the disposal, 
not of one officer or department alone, but of all the mihtary 
heads, whose duty it would be to advise the Minister." 

The above references to the Hartington Commission are 
not made for the purpose of condemning Sir Henry Campbell- 
Bannerman, but rather to illustrate the views then held by 
prominent public men in regard to preparation for war. 
To do the Hartington Commissioners justice I should add 
that all of them, except Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, 



94 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

agreed with the recommendation mentioned, but, on the 
other hand, the opinions he expressed must have been shared 
by many persons in both political parties, for, although there 
was a change of Government in 1895, nothing was done 
to introduce the system recommended until the necessity 
for it was forced upon us by the costly experience of the 
South African war. The consequences of this delay were 
set forth in the " Report of the War Office (Reconstitution) 
Committee, 1904," where it was stated that " if the recom- 
mendations of the majority of the Hartington Commission 
had not been ignored, the country would have been saved 
the loss of many thousands of Uves and of many millions 
of pounds subsequently sacrificed in the war." 

There was, moreover, no superior authority specially 
charged with the co-ordination of the different State depart- 
ments concerned in war preparations, and in this connection 
it was stated in the evidence given before the Hartington 
Commission that *' no combined plan of operations for the 
defence of the Empire in any given contingency has ever 
been worked out or decided upon by the two departments " 
{i.e., War Office and Admiralty). The nearest approach to 
a superior authority of the kind required were the Defence 
Committee of the Cabinet and the Colonial Defence 
Committee. But the former, to the best of my knowledge, 
seldom met except when an emergency had already arisen ; 
it had no permanent nucleus and therefore had Httle or no 
continuity of policy or action ; and for these and other 
reasons it could not, and did not, properly consider the 
many complex military problems calling for solution. 

The Colonial Defence Committee, having a succession of 
very capable secretaries, including the present Lord Syden- 
ham, performed an extraordinary amount of valuable work 
— of which we reaped the benefit in the Great War — but 
its activities were mainly confined to the colonies, and, 
being composed of subordinate officials, it had no power to 
decide the questions with which it dealt. It could only make 
" recommendations, *' which were afterwards submitted for 
the approval of the departmental ministers concerned, and, 
as might be expected, this was not always given, while at 
best it took days, weeks, or even months to obtain. 



SIR EDWARD ALTHAM 95 

The danger incurred by all this appalling want of foresight 
was the more serious because the other Great Powers were 
busily engaged in improving their General Staff machinery, 
various parts of Africa and China were in process of annexa- 
tion or exploitation, several international boundaries and 
treaties affecting our military interests were in dispute, and 
our foreign diplomatic relations were in more than one case 
the reverse of cordial. Hence, while we may wish that the 
South African war had never been fought, we cannot be 
too thankful that its exposure of our defects compelled the 
adoption in 1904 (see page 136) of those reforms in our 
military system which, if they had not been made when 
they were, would have greatly aggravated the disadvantages 
under which we entered upon the war with Germany in 19 14. 
It is perhaps not too much to say that the Empire was saved 
from disaster by the small community of Boer farmers who, 
a few years before, had fought against us. 

On joining the Intelligence Branch I was posted to the 
section deaHng with Asia and Russia in Europe. My Simla 
experience made me feel at home with Asiatic affairs, but 
I was strange to European Russia and ignorant of its 
language, for although before leaving the Staff College I 
had passed the French interpretership examination and 
made fair progress in German, Russian was a sealed book 
to me and still is. Captain (now Brigadier-General) Waters, 
the head of the section, was an accomphshed Russian 
linguist, and being personally acquainted with the country 
he took charge of it himself, consigning to me the care 
of the non -Russian part of Asia. 

After being employed in this manner for three months 
my " temporary " appointment to the staff was made 
permanent, and I was posted as Staff Captain in the Colonial 
Section, my immediate chief in this case being Captain (now 
Lieut enant-General Sir) E. Altham. From him I learnt 
much about the resources, administration, and defence of 
the different parts of the Empire of which I knew little or 
nothing before and which was valuable to me in after years. 
In many respects I was his debtor, but his handwriting 
was amongst the worst ever seen, except my own, and I 
frequently had to summon his confidential clerk to decipher 



96 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

the hieroglyphics which in the course of business he inflicted 
upon me. 

Our Colonial Empire comprised some forty distinct 
and independent governments, and in addition to these 
organised states there were a number of dependencies under 
the dominion of the Sovereign which had no formed 
administrations, as well as large territories controlled by 
certain British Companies, and the protectorates, such as 
Somaliland and British East Africa, under the supervision 
of the Foreign Office. All mihtary questions concerning 
these possessions found their way into my section, their 
number being exceeded only by the variety of their character. 
They included the training, equipment, administration, 
organisation, and emplojmient of the local forces so far as 
these matters were referred for the advice or decision of the 
Home Government, and as the forces were stiU in a rudi- 
mentary stage such references were far more common than 
they now are. 

Complicated questions regarding the armament and 
garrisons of coahng stations cropped up almost daily, 
besides a host of others relating to what was then termed 
Colonial Defence and is now known as Imperial Defence. 
One of these was the control of submarine cables in time of 
war, practical measures for which were then being worked 
out and have since proved to be of great value. The 
protectorates, though few in number, absorbed a great deal 
of our time, as they were invariably the scene of disturbances 
of some kind or other. Between 1896 and 1899 there must 
have been a dozen or more small wars in these territories, 
such as the Uganda mutiny and Sierra Leone rebelhon, and 
not being equipped with personnel to deal with them the 
Foreign Office had constantly to ask the InteUigence Branch, 
as representing the War Office, for advice or information. 
This was not always easy to give, because so Httle was known 
about either the countries themselves, the quality and 
characteristics of the troops we had raised in them, or the 
power for mischief possessed by the hostile tribes. 

The heaviest part of the work lay in South Africa, 
where trouble with the Transvaal had been brewing for some 
two years past and was daily becoming more acute. Every 



SOUTH AFRICAN WAR 97 

Saturday the Cape mail brought us a budget of correspond- 
ence, official and private, which had to be sifted, studied, 
and distributed ; it was known that war-Uke stores were 
gradually being accumulated both by the Transvaal and 
Free State, and it was our duty to watch these as closely as 
conditions would allow ; special reconnaissances of main 
routes and strategical localities had to be initiated ; hand- 
books and summaries of the information obtained had to be 
prepared with a view to active operations ; the Cabinet had 
to be supplied with memoranda bearing on the military 
situation ; and many other matters, far too numerous to 
specify, called for urgent attention. Fortunately, Altham 
had a good knowledge of the country and was a quick 
worker, and while I struggled with the remainder of the 
Empire for which we were responsible, he dealt with the 
important and pressing business of South Africa. Consider- 
ing the amount to be got through he achieved marvels, and 
this was recognised by the Royal Commission on the South 
African war, who pronounced the information contained in 
the hand-books, as well as in a " valuable " series of 
memoranda, to be in many respects remarkably accurate. 

As everybody knows, the war lasted much longer and 
required far more troops than had been expected. Of the 
reasons for this I may mention two : the first was Mr. 
Stanhope's dictum that the " primary " duty of the military 
authorities was home defence ; the second, largely the 
corollary of the first, was the weakness of our military 
position as compared with the Boers when hostihties com- 
menced. Throughout the long negotiations with the two 
RepubUcs this disadvantage was keenly felt both by the 
local authorities and the War Office, but it was difficult, if 
not impossible, to remedy it, since to send out reinforcements 
and to make other necessary preparations might have 
destroyed all hopes of obtaining that peaceful solution which 
the Government desired. The position was therefore still 
dangerously weak when hostihties broke out on the nth 
October, and in consequence we were penalised with the 
greatest of all handicaps in war — a bad start. 

I recall the disadvantages which prevailed at the 
beginning, because they, more than anything else, were 

H 



98 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

answerable for the prolonged duration of the war. I am 
aware that certain people claimed in later years to have 
appreciated the situation correctly, and to have forecast 
more or less accurately the number of troops that would 
be required ; but I am afraid that these claims must be 
regarded as instances of being wise after the event. At any 
rate all the estimates which came to my notice at the War 
Office before the war, and a great many came, proved to 
be, with one exception, very much on the wrong side. 

I am reminded of another forecast which proved to be 
inaccurate. At one of the many Cabinet discussions of the 
South African question some one apparently suggested that 
it would be a wise precaution to work out the probable cost 
involved in the event of war, and it feU to me to make the 
arithmetical calculation. Being furnished with the figures 
representing the estimated number of troops required and 
the time they would take in carrying out their task, I had 
merely to apply these and other data to the cost of previous 
British campaigns in somewhat similar countries, making 
of course due allowance for any difference there might be 
in the conditions. The answer to my sum was recorded 
on half a sheet of foolscap, and if it found its way to 
the Cabinet, as I suppose it did, I am sure it received a 
cordial welcome. What it was I shall not say — though I 
remember the figure well — and I would wager that no one 
would guess it in a dozen attempts, though it was perhaps 
as accurate as the estimate of the cost of any other war has 
ever been. 

When General Sir George White was deputed in 
September 1899 to assume command of the troops in 
Natal, then being reinforced by certain units from India, 
Altham went with him as head of the Intelligence and I 
was placed in charge of the Colonial section. Another 
officer was appointed to fill the post I vacated, but he had 
not been with me more than a fortnight before he was 
ordered to join his battalion, which was proceeding to 
South Africa, and no sooner had he been followed by a new 
man than a further change was made for the same reason. 
No fewer than five different officers were given to me in this 
way before the end of the year, and it was under these 



CIVILIAN PROPOSALS 99 

conditions that, over and above the normal work of the 
section, I had to grapple with a multitude of questions for 
the proper treatment of which at least half a dozen General 
Staff Officers were required. Consequently I could but try, 
with the help of my ever-changing assistant, to deal with 
the more important matters, so far as an average sixteen- 
hour day would permit, and leave the remainder to look 
after themselves. 

The rapidity with which the Boers proceeded after the 
outbreak of war to besiege first one place and then another, 
and to carry their offensive into adjacent British possessions, 
gave rise to much consternation amongst those whose private 
or commercial interests were affected. This brought to the 
War Office a flood of proposals from all classes of people, 
according to which, it was claimed, the situation could be at 
once retrieved and the aims of the enemy completely 
frustrated. All found their way to my table for examination 
and report, and as many of them were produced or backed 
by influential persons, a great deal more labour had to be 
devoted to answering them than they deserved. Practically 
all of them suffered from the defect common to other amateur 
prescriptions, in that while they clearly and often quite 
cleverly showed what it was desirable to do — a comparatively 
easy task — they failed to be so convincing as to how this 
could be done — ^which is never easy, especially to those 
responsible for doing it. The burden of responsibihty makes 
an important difference in war, as it does in all other business 
calling for important decisions, and for this reason advice 
unaccompanied by a proper share of responsibility for 
execution should always be accepted with caution. My 
task in deaUng with these proposals was made the harder 
because Sir John Ardagh, owing to indisposition, was not 
always present to back up my replies, but on the other hand 
I was invariably well supported by both Lord Wolseley and 
the Secretary of State for War, Lord Lansdowne. 

Inventions with which utterly to destroy the enemy 
without loss to ourselves, and false reports of various devices 
on his part for destroying us, also arrived in large numbers, 
and these again, being sometimes forwarded by prominent 
public men, or having in them some particle of good, had 



100 FROM PRIVATE tO FIELD-MARSHAL 

to be examined and answered to the satisfaction of the 
authorities to whose notice they had been brought. 

Another task which occupied much of my time was the 
preparation of a daily summary of events for the Queen, 
the Cabinet, and various departmental heads, showing the 
dispositions of the troops and the reinforcements in course 
of transit. Information as to these dispositions was difficult 
to obtain, as it always is when the military situation is 
unfavourable, for the local authorities themselves may not 
have it, and such as they have may be doubtful or 
unpalatable, and therefore they sometimes hesitate to 
forward it until it has been confirmed. Again, when informa- 
tion reached the War Office from the front it had to pass 
through rigidly prescribed channels, as in time of peace, and 
was often hours and sometimes days before it arrived at my 
table in Queen Anne's Gate, on the opposite side of St. 
James's Park. The Intelligence Branch was treated as a 
separate, and not very important, part of the War Office 
organisation. 

The consequence was that I had to rely for my data 
largely upon the reports of war correspondents, which 
would often appear in the Press before the same informa- 
tion reached me officially, and sometimes the newspapers 
alone supplied the particular intelligence I wanted. As 
might be expected, the reports were not always reliable, 
but they served to furnish useful indications regarding 
events at the front, and by carefully following them day 
by day, and exercising due discretion as to the credibility 
of individual correspondents — which I was soon able to 
appraise — the summary proved to be remarkably correct. 
As it was the only document of its kind produced, the 
demand for it soon rose from half a dozen copies to five 
times that number. The accuracy of the summary, prepared 
in the manner described, is an illustration of the useful 
intelligence which can be gleaned by an enemy from a close 
study of his adversary's press, and it shows that the censor- 
ship of military news has greater justification than some 
people imagine. 

December 1899 found Maf eking, Kimberley, and Lady- 
smith still besieged and parts of Cape Colony in rebellion, 



SIR REDVERS BULLER loi 

and the climax was reached in the second week of 
the month, popularly known as " black week/' in which 
occurred the three reverses of Stormberg, Magersfontein, 
and Colenso. Then followed the despatch of Sir Redvers 
BuUer's historic telegram on the evening of the 15th 
December, in which he expressed the view that he " ought 
to let Ladysmith go, occupy good positions for the defence 
of South Natal, and let time help us." 

The first I knew about this telegram was at three 
o'clock the following afternoon, Saturday, when a member 
of the Government brought it in his pocket to the Intelligence 
Branch intending to discuss it with Sir John Ardagh before 
the Defence Committee of the Cabinet met at five o'clock 
that evening to consider what should be done. As Sir John 
was ill in bed I was summoned, the telegram was read over 
to me, and I was asked to advise. What puzzled the minister 
was that there should be any such great obstacle to the relief 
of Ladysmith as that implied by BuUer's proposal to abandon 
the attempt. In his view the advantages of position seemed 
to be with us, seeing that Buller's force outside and White's 
force inside were together numerically superior to the Boer 
force in the middle ; we were the nutcrackers and the Boers 
were the nut, and he could not understand why they should 
not be promptly and completely crushed. The " nut- 
crackers " theory offers tempting results and has always 
been attractive to the layman, as weU as to not a few 
professionals, but it happens to be one of those many 
operations of war which in theory seem so simple and in 
practice are so hard. Its successful application demands not 
only considerable superiority, either in numbers or morale, 
but also perfect timing, good intercommunication, and great 
determination on the part of the exterior forces and their 
commanders, and these are the very essentials which, in the 
given circumstances, are the most difficult to ensure. 

I did my best to explain to the minister why this was 
so, but I could see that he was not altogether convinced, 
and when I told him that as the besieged force had only 
sixty days' supplies when first shut up some six weeks 
earUer, it could not hold out long after the end of the 
year imless the ordinary scale of rations had meanwhile 



102 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

been reduced, he ruefully observed that the prospect of 
the country having a happy new year was not very bright. 
I could not deny this, nor could I help remarking that the 
principal cause of all the trouble was the bad start we had 
made. Buller felt this as much as any one, and on the 
20th of November had written : " Ever since I have been 
here, we have been like the man who, with a long day's 
work before him, overslept himself and so was late for every- 
thing all day." We had, in fact, as Lord Wolseley had said 
in the preceding September, " committed one of the greatest 
blunders in war, namely, we have given the enemy the 
initiative." Having made this mistake, we were now com- 
pelled to dance to the enemy's tune, and, amongst other 
things, transfer to Natal a large part of the field force 
originally destined to advance into the Free State from 
Cape Colony. 

As it could serve no useful purpose to dwell upon reflec- 
tions of this kind, I proceeded to adopt a more encouraging 
tone by saying that, notwithstanding the unsatisfactory 
outlook, there was as yet no sufficient ground for accepting 
Buller 's suggestion to " let Ladysmith go," for it would 
probably be found that the garrison could hold out for a 
considerably longer time than that estimated on the ration 
basis, while its surrender must clearly have a serious military 
and political effect. Tiuning to the general situation I 
pointed out that our troops were dispersed in small bodies 
over a vast area and were acting upon no coherent or com- 
prehensive plan, and consequently there had been a great 
lack of unified effort between them. Obviously, the most 
pressing need was a change in the High Command, since it 
was impossible for Buller properly to direct operations on 
a front extending for some 600 miles from Natal to 
Kimberley, to say nothing of the operations, in progress 
or contemplated, on the west and north sides of the enemy 
coimtries, and in addition exercise personal command over 
the Ladysmith ReHef Force. The remedy was either to direct 
Buller to hand over the Natal Command to another officer, 
so that he might give his imdivided attention to the opera- 
tions as a whole, or to limit his sphere to Natal and replace 
him by another officer in the supreme command. The 



LORD ROBERTS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF 103 

minister seemed to appreciate this argument, and after 
further conversation he started off for the Cabinet meeting, 
with the determination — ^greatly to his credit — of seeing 
the South African business through at all costs. The 
minister was Mr. Balfour. 

What took place at the meeting is unknown to me, but 
the decision of the Government was to reject the proposed 
abandonment of Ladysmith, to provide large reinforce- 
ments, and to appoint Lord Roberts Commander-in-Chief of 
aU troops in South Africa, Lord Kitchener to be his Chief 
of the Staff. So ended a somewhat memorable day in the 
annals of the British Empire. 

On the following Monday Henderson, my old tutor at 
the Staff College, came to tell me that he was joining the 
headquarters staff of Lord Roberts as Director of Intelli- 
gence. We spent some time together considering alternative 
plans of campaign, and he then rejoiced my heart by saying 
that he intended to ask for me to go out as his assistant. 
Hearing no more about the matter before Lord Roberts and 
his staff left England on the following Saturday I sorrow- 
fully concluded that Henderson's proposal had not been 
sanctioned. I had not expected that it would be, for I 
was the only officer at the War Office who had the situation 
at his fingers* ends, and could not hope that Ardagh would 
allow me to go away. However, on the 27th of December 
I was telegraphed for by Lord Roberts from Gibraltar, 
where he had stopped to pick up Lord Kitchener coming 
from Egj^t, and as the order had gone forth that he was 
to be given everything and everybody he asked for I was 
duly hberated. Three days later I embarked at South- 
ampton on the transport Aurania, heartily glad to escape 
from the depressing and uncongenial atmosphere common 
to official life in London in time of war. 



CHAPTER VIII 

ON THE HEADQUARTERS STAFF IN THE SOUTH 

AFRICAN WAR 

Situation on arrival at Cape Town — Formation of mounted infantry — 
Lord Roberts' plan of operations and measures taken to preserve 
secrecy — Composition of Intelligence Staff at Headquarters — 
Arrival of Headquarters at Modder river — Lord Roberts' care for 
his troops — Mystifjdng Cronje as to the proposed hne of advance — 
General situation at this time — BuUer asks for reinforcements — 
Lord Roberts adheres to his plan — Cavalry division crosses Free 
State frontier and reUeves Kimberley — Pursuit of Cronje — Battle 
of Paardeberg — Confusion caused by bad system of command — 
Investment of Cronje — Cronje surrenders and is brought into camp 
— He is sent to St. Helena — Grierson joins Headquarters — His 
efforts to improve defective methods of staff work — Lord Roberts' 
instructions in regard to battle of Poplar Grove — Imperfect arrange- 
ments for the battle enable Boer forces to make good their retreat — 
Advance continued to Bloenifontein — Summary of events to date — 
Standard of staff work and tactics inferior to strategy — Strategy 
never so good again — Some reasons lor this — Henderson's health 
breaks down and he returns to England — He commences to write 
the Official History of the War — His death in Egypt in 1903 — The 
soldier's difficulties in writing official histories — The advance from 
Bloemfontein to Kroonstad and thence to Pretoria — Boer guerilla 
warfare- — Lord Roberts' plan — Hardships of march and fine spirit 
of the men — Action of Diamond HiU — The advance to Middelburg 
— ^The De Wet hunts — Recalled to the War Office — Reach rank of 
Major — Promoted Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel for services in the 
war. 

On arrival at Cape Town on the 20th of January I found 
Lord Roberts and the headquarters staff engaged in making 
systematic preparations for the advance into the Free 
State, and for giving the troops greater mobihty than they 
had hitherto possessed. This entailed a drastic change in 
the normal organisation of the transport service, as well 
as the provision of additional bodies of moimted men. 
The latter were obtained partly by raising or expanding 
local corps, and partly by forming mounted infantry bat- 
talions composed of companies drawn from line battalions. 

Z04 



MOUNTED INFANTRY 105 

In this way eight additional mounted infantry battalions 
were made up, and as an example of the conditions under 
which some of them were formed I may mention that the 
infantry battalion on board the ship which conveyed me 
was met on reaching port by a staff officer with orders to 
despatch one company that evening to De Aar, where it 
would find horses and saddlery and thereupon would become 
a moimted infantry company. 

Three weeks later this same company, with others 
equally untrained, was sent forward to meet the enemy, and 
as something went wrong with the orders the first day's 
march did not begin till seven o'clock in the evening. Many 
of the men crossed a horse that day for the first time in 
their lives, and in the darkness of the night the horses 
often stumbled, many of the riders fell, and when camp was 
reached at daylight next morning a considerable number 
were absent, having been left lying on the ground while 
their moimts went on with the column. Later in the war 
the moimted infantry performed excellent work, but at 
first they could not manoeuvre under fire, and by their bad 
riding galled both their horses and themselves. The need 
for more mounted troops was obvious enough, but a mounted 
infantryman who can neither ride nor properly look after 
his horse is not of much fighting value, and he is decidedly 
expensive in the matter of horseflesh. No more unfortunate 
animal ever lived than the horse of the mounted infantryman 
during the early period of the march from the Modder to 
Pretoria. 

Lord Roberts' plan was to concentrate as large a force 
as possible in the vicinity of Lord Methuen's camp on the 
Modder near Magersfontein, pass round Cronje's left flank, 
then wheel north and get astride his communications with 
Kimberley, and after the relief of that place operate in the 
direction of Bloemfontein, so as to render the Boer positions 
south of the Orange river untenable. Lord Roberts was 
convinced, moreover, that by threatening Bloemfontein he 
would oblige the enemy to relax his hold on Natal, and 
would thereby effect the rehef of Ladysmith. 

The success of the plan depended upon keeping the 
enemy in doubt as to the proposed line of advance, and this 



io6 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

was furthered by making demonstrations as if the intention 
were to force a passage at Norval's Pont, some 150 miles by 
rail east of Magersfontein, and by various other devices 
calculated to mislead. As the Boers had recently captured 
in Natal certain intelligence papers disclosing the original 
plan of campaign, which contemplated an advance into 
the Free State by Norval's Pont, they were the more easily 
imposed upon and induced to believe that this route would 
be the one followed. The real plan was at first made 
known to no one, I believe, except to Lord Kitchener, 
Sir William Nicholson (the military secretary), Henderson, 
and a few of&cers charged with making the necessary 
railway arrangements. It was not disclosed either to 
Kelly-Kenny or French (who commanded the troops 
waiting to be transferred from the Norval's Pont locality 
to the Modder) until the 29th of January, the day on which 
the transfer began. Other troops were meanwhile pushed 
up the western line, but the Boers apparently thought that 
this merely indicated a renewed but local attack on Magers- 
fontein. 

Henderson, always an ardent advocate for mystifying 
and misleading the enemy, was especially active, and 
revelled in the deceits he practised. He sent out fictitious 
telegrams to commanders in clear, and then on one excuse 
or another countermanded them in cipher ; circulated false 
orders implying a concentration of troops at Colesberg, 
in the Norval's Pont direction ; gave " confidential '* tips 
to people eager for news whom he knew would at once 
divulge them; and in numerous ways fostered the behef 
that never again would our troops hurl themselves against 
the carefully prepared Boer entrenchments at Magersfontein, 
and that Kimberley could and must look after itself pending 
a direct advance on Bloemfontein by the Norval's Pont 
route. One of his tools was a London newspaper corre- 
spondent to whom he gave a particularly " confidential " 
piece of information, with strict injunctions to keep it to 
himself. As Henderson hoped, it quickly appeared in the 
London Press, and was brought to our notice by the War 
Office as a serious indiscretion on the part of some of the 
staff ! A few days later, when the advance was begun in 



LORD ROBERTS 107 

a direction quite different from that which had been told 
him, the correspondent became so irate and was so lacking 
in a sense of humour that he formally complained to 
Lord Roberts of the " unfair and dishonest treatment ** he 
had received. On the whole it is probable that no military 
plan was ever kept better concealed from either friend or 
foe, and certainly the Boers did not discover it imtil too 
late to rectify their error. 

In addition to Henderson, the Intelligence staff at 
headquarters consisted of four officers, including myself, 
designated Deputy Assistant Adjutant-Generals, though we 
had nothing whatever to do with the Adjutant- General's 
department. We were a happy party, and, having all been 
pupils of Henderson at the Staff College, looked forward 
with keen interest to the application in practice of the lessons 
and principles he had taught us in theory a few years before. 
The discussions we had with him in the small mess we 
formed, and which he joined, regarding the problems 
to be solved were a valuable education for aU of us, 
but he nevertheless kept from us almost as much as from 
the Boers the secret of the selected line of advance. By 
degrees, however, our suspicions were aroused, and when 
headquarters was suddenly ordered to entrain at Cape Town 
for the front we were not surprised to learn that our destina- 
tion was Lord Methuen's camp on the Modder. 

On reaching this camp on the 8th of February the Com- 
mander-in-Chief immediately proceeded to visit the troops, 
and by his cheery smile and friendly recognition did much 
to revive the spirits of those who were feeling disheartened 
owing to previous failures and disappointments. Lord 
Roberts possessed an attractive personahty, took infinite 
pains to secure the confidence and esteem of his troops, 
and to show them that their interests were also his — as 
they undoubtedly were. It is to be regretted that his 
example is not more frequently followed by other leaders, 
since the neglect of it greatly reduces the fighting value 
of the troops and cannot be made good by any other 
qualities of leadership, with the sole exception, perhaps, 
of an unbroken string of victories, and this rarely falls to 
the lot of the commander of whom regimental officers and 



io8 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

men know and see little, and for whom they consequently 
care less. 

Good relations between commanders and the rank and 
file are Uke all other forms of friendship — if they are to be 
maintained and bear fruit they must be nourished. Soldiers 
are human beings — rather more human than other people 
— and they will never respond whole-heartedly to the 
commander who treats them as mere automata to be used 
for his own purpose according to order, and without any 
thought being given to them as ordinary men. On the 
other hand, they will always be ready to offer the last ounce 
of their strength in extricating from any difficulty into which 
he may have fallen the General in whom they have con- 
fidence as a personal friend. Our men are exceedingly 
accurate judges of an officer's worth and character, and 
whilst they intensely dislike the officer who does not enter 
into their feelings and treats them as if they had none, they 
have unbounded admiration for the one who treats them 
kindly as well as justly. 

The matter is one which calls for special attention in 
these modern days, when armies are very large and spread 
over vast areas, and when senior commanders can no longer 
live in or near to the camps and bivouacs of their troops, 
but must usually have their headquarters many miles 
distant from them. For several other reasons a com- 
mander's opportunities of being seen by his men, and of 
becoming personally known to them, are much fewer than 
formerly, and therefore there is the more need that he 
should make additional efforts to meet these new conditions, 
for the human factor remains unchanged and the men are 
as sensitive as ever to the human touch. 

The daily arrival of troops near Magersfontein ought 
to have shown to Cronje the extreme danger of his 
position, but he still clung fast to the belief that it signi- 
fied no more than a direct attack, and that we could not 
operate except in the immediate proximity to a railway. 
It was desirable to confirm him in these false impressions if 
our object of passing round his left flank was to be achieved, 
and Intelligence officers and agents were therefore kept 
busy reconnoitring the country in front of his position ; 



GENERAL FRENCH log 

information regarding water, camping-places, etc., alongside 
the railway was sought from every one likely to acquaint him 
with our enquiries ; telegrams in cipher, easy to decipher, 
were allowed to fall into his hands ; and all the other usual 
means of deception were practised. Lastly, as it was 
important that we should be informed early and accurately 
of his movements when eventually he found his flank 
turned, we induced certain Dutch-speaking men to join his 
commandos, with a promise of substantial pecimiary reward 
if they brought us the information we required. 

The situation at the time was one of great anxiety. The 
siege of Kimberley had hitherto been a kind of passive 
investment, but on the 7th of February the Boers opened 
fire with the " Long Tom " (six-inch gun) which they had 
brought round from Ladysmith, and this so alarmed the 
inhabitants that two days later Kekewich, the commander 
of the besieged force, felt obliged to report to Lord Roberts 
that the danger of surrender was imminent. Other dis- 
quieting news was received from Buller as to his inability 
to relieve Ladysmith, and on the 9th of February he 
reported that in his opinion " the fate of Ladysmith is 
only a question of days unless I am very considerably 
reinforced." 

All this constituted a heavy load, and Lord Roberts 
carried it bravely and correctly. He could not possibly 
send reinforcements to Buller in Natal without abandoning 
the plan he had so carefully considered and elaborated for 
an advance into the Free State, and in which he beheved 
to lie the greatest prospects of success. Moreover, its 
abandonment would entail endless confusion and delay. 
He therefore stuck to it ; gave orders for the troops to 
cross the Free State frontier on the nth of February ; 
and instructed General French, commanding the cavalry 
division, which led the way, to relieve Kimberley " at all 
costs." By skilful manoeuvre and the display of com- 
mendable audacity, French was able to report on the evening 
of the 15th that his mission had been accomplished in con- 
formity with Lord Roberts' instructions. 

Cronje having meanwhile obstinately refused to budge 
from his trenches, our next task was to reap the fruits of 



no FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

the opportunity created by the cavalry, which had not only 
relieved Kimberley but had interposed between the investing 
force now retreating north of that place and the commandos 
at Magersfontein to the south, and had thus severed Cronje's 
communications with the Transvaal, to which he, a Trans- 
vaaler, attached great importance. 

Cronje has been much criticised for his inaction, and it 
is right that he should be held responsible for the conse- 
quences of it, but on the other hand it is only fair to take 
into account the circumstances as they appeared to him 
at the time. It was a fact that the British troops had not 
previously operated at any great distance from a railway, 
and Cronje probably thought, and quite correctly, that to 
do so on this occasion would be a very difficult undertaking. 
February is the hottest month of the South African summer ; 
water was alarmingly scarce ; no rain had fallen for weeks 
past and the sandy plains offered but Httle food for the 
country-bred animals and still less for the EngUsh horses ; 
the Modder and the Riet were formidable obstacles, passable 
only at widely separated drifts ; and finally, to march round 
the flank of a mobile enemy knowing every inch of the 
terrain, while we knew httle or nothing about it, was to 
incur such risks as not a few commanders would hesitate 
to accept. These and similar considerations could not fail 
to have a great influence on Cronje's decision, and he does 
not deserve to be dismissed merely as a stupid and sullen 
old Boer in the summary and superior fashion adopted by 
some of his critics ; and to do this is to belittle what un- 
doubtedly was a bold conception on the part of Lord Roberts, 
and an arduous performance on the part of his troops. 

Hearing of the rehef of Kimberley and of the movement 
of other British columns round his left flank, Cronje at 
last reaUsed his perilous position, and about ten o'clock on 
the night of the 15th he commenced to retreat up the 
right bank of the Modder so as to regain his communica- 
tions with Bloemfontein. When our headquarters reached 
Jacobsdal early the following morning reports and rumours 
indicating the direction of his retirement began to come 
in, but they were so vague and contradictory that it was 
difiicult to draw any reliable inference from them. This 



CRONJE MOVES iii 

may seem strange in these more modern days, seeing that 
Cronje was moving between French's cavalry at Kimberley 
and Kelly-Kenny's Division at Klip Drift on the Modder, 
the distance between these two detachments being only 
about 15 miles ; but it should be remembered that com- 
munications in the field had not then reached their present 
state of perfection, and that there were no aeroplanes to 
spy out the country and rapidly bring back the information 
which we now expect to get as a matter of routine. 

It was my special business to collect and study the 
inteUigence received concerning the Boer movements, and 
although I knew that Cronje had three courses open to him, 
it was as yet impossible to say which of the three he would 
choose. He might retreat either by the west or the east side 
of Kimberley and unite with the force just driven back by 
French, or he might try to escape to the eastward and make 
for Bloemfontein. Strategically, either of the two first 
would have been the safest, but, as so often happens in war, 
the least hkely route — the third — ^was selected. I think 
it was Moltke who once warned his students that when an 
enemy seems to have three courses open to him, the chances 
are that he will find a fourth and adopt it. 

By mid-day on the i6th all doubts were dispelled by the 
arrival at headquarters of one of the men whom we had 
previously introduced into the commandos at Magers- 
fontein. His account of Cronje's movements was evidently 
rehable, and being corroborated by the information we had 
received from other sources, it became possible to form a 
definite opinion upon which the Commander-in-Chief could 
safely determine his future action. The informant received 
the promised reward and something in addition. 

French was immediately ordered back from Kimberley to 
head off Cronje at Koodoos Drift ; the 6th and 9th Divisions 
were told to retard and harass the retreating commandos ; 
and other troops were hastened up from the rear. Owing 
to defective communications French did not receive his in- 
structions till ten o'clock that night, but his squadrons were 
set in motion before dawn next morning, and at about 
eleven o'clock, having covered 26 miles since leaving 
Kimberley, his horse batteries came into action against the 



112 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

main body of Cronje's convoy, hampered by women, children, 
and dismounted men, just as it was beginning to descend 
to Vendutie Drift in order to gain the Bloemfontein road 
on the left bank. Throughout the day French effectively 
frustrated all the enemy's attempts to cross the river, and 
his retreat having thus been arrested, Cronje's surrender 
became a question of time. 

Headquarters remained at Jacobsdal during the 17th 
and i8th, and on the 19th moved to Paardeberg Drift, the 
scene of the battle of Paardeberg of the previous day. We 
found considerable disappointment prevaihng because the 
battle had not ended in the defeat and capture of Cronje's 
force, and one of the reasons given for this was the faulty 
manner in which the chief command had been exercised. 
Kelly-Kenny was the senior officer present and therefore 
ought to have commanded, but Lord Roberts had thought 
fit to appoint Lord Kitchener to give orders in his name, 
which amounted to placing him over Kelly-Kenny's head. 
Lord Kitchener had no time to make arrangements with 
either Kelly- Kenny or Colville, respectively commanding 
the 6th and 9th Divisions as to the way in wliich he would 
communicate his orders, and, except for his aides-de-camp 
and one other staff officer, he possessed no machinery for 
such communication. The two divisional commanders were 
therefore frequently at a loss to know during the course 
of the battle what was required of them, and owing to lack 
of effective control over the force as a whole there was no 
adequate co-operation between the different parts of it. 

Throughout the war it was rather a favourite custom 
of Lord Roberts to use Lord Kitchener as a sort of second- 
in-command rather than as a Chief of Staff, and to depute 
him to take command of operations at a distance which 
he himself could not superintend. But an itinerant com- 
mander cannot have the same grasp of local conditions as 
the commander on the spot, and if the latter is not competent 
to command his troops in action he ought to be replaced 
by some one who is, and not be superseded just as the 
fighting begins. Further, if the Chief of Staff is con- 
stantly away from headquarters for days or even weeks 
at a time — as Lord Kitchener was — it is farcical to call 



CRONJE'S SURRENDER 113 

him by that name, or to imagine that the duties of the 
staff can be properly carried out. 

During the investment of Cronje we were sometimes 
very short of food, for, in addition to the difficulties ex- 
perienced in bringing up the supply columns, De Wet had a 
few days before swooped down upon one of our convoys 
at Waterval Drift and captured about 180 wagon loads 
of suppHes as well as some 500 slaughter oxen. On the 
first night of our arrival at Paardeberg our mess was 
without food of any kind until Lord Roberts, hearing of 
our phght, and with his characteristic kindness, sent us 
the remains of a leg of mutton, which was apparently all 
that his own mess possessed. In the darkness I clumsily 
allowed my share of it to fall to the ground, but my himger 
was much too keen to allow me to be " put off " by the sand 
and other disagreeable and unknown things with which, 
when I retrieved it, and resumed my meal, I foun,d the bone 
to be covered. We had no bread, and for several days were 
on half rations of biscuits, while we were not much better 
off for water. The Modder was certainly close at hand, but 
as dead animals from the enemy's laager higher up stream 
were constantly to be seen, and smelt, floating down, or 
caught up by the branches overhanging its banks, this 
means of quenching one's thirst was not pleasant. 

We found plenty to do while at Paardeberg, as numerous 
deserters drifted in from the laager and had to be ex- 
amined ; we had to watch the commandos hovering about 
in the vicinity with the intention of lending Cronje a hand 
to break out ; and there were many reports to be investi- 
gated of Boer reinforcements being sent from Cape Colony 
and Lady smith. An interesting occupation was to arrive 
at an estimate regarding the strength of the force Cronje 
had with him, the best calculation we could make being 
5000 men and 8 guns. The number actually amounted, 
when the surrender took place, to 3919 fighting men and 
5 guns, to which of course should be added the deserters 
who had meanwhile given themselves up or had escaped 
through our fines. 

The Boers hoisted the white flag soon after sunrise on the 
27th, and about seven o'clock Cronje was brought in to 

I 



114 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

headquarters, where he was met by Lord Roberts and 
congratulated on the gallant defence he had made. The 
rugged features of the old Boer leader showed signs of the 
anxious times through which he had passed, but he carried 
himself bravely and Hke a man. Whatever mistakes his 
indecision had caused him to commit earlier in the operations, 
he had at any rate displayed a fine determination in com- 
pelling his despondent followers to hold out against superior 
forces for ten days in an impossible position, and he was 
entitled to receive, and did receive, the respectful sjmapathy 
of us all. Early in the afternoon he left with his wife for 
Cape Town en route to St. Helena. 

We had a welcome addition to the headquarters staff 
about this time in the person of Lieutenant-Colonel Grierson, 
who arrived hot-footed from BerUn, where he had been 
employed as military attach^. He had his first meal at our 
frugal and impoverished mess, and Hke all newcomers to 
the country was suffering from an inordinate thirst which, 
quite unknown to him but fully reaUsed by us, was slaked 
only at the expense of our last ** sparklet " and small stock 
of whisky. It had been intended to place him in charge 
of the foreign military attaches accompanying headquarters, 
but this not being to his liking he so arranged matters as 
to become Assistant Adjutant-General, with the special 
duty of deaUng with the movements and distribution of the 
troops — a duty which hitherto had been mainly performed 
by the Commander-in-Chief through the medium of his 
aides-de-camp and other officers of his personal staff. 

Grierson, having for long made a close study of the 
methods of the German General Staff, was aUve to the value 
of clear and definite orders, and at once set about introducing 
systematic arrangements for their issue. But his task was 
difficult and he made httle headway, as many orders still 
continued to be sent out by the Commander-in-Chief direct 
or through his personal staff, and sometimes without the 
knowledge of the real staff and the administrative services. 
Grierson received more than one hint to go easy with his 
new-fangled ideas, and on one occasion at least he was 
told that he need issue no orders as the Commander-in-Chief 
would issue them himself. The battle of Paardeberg had 



POPLAR GROVE 115 

already shown the disadvantages incurred by the absence 
of clearly expressed operation orders, and a further proof 
of this was furnished at the next action fought — Poplar 
Grove, on the 7th of March. 

Following the surrender of Cronje, De Wet had collected 
several commandos astride the Modder facing our camp 
at Osfontein, their maximum strength being estimated 
at 14,000 men. We had more than twice that number and 
about five times as many guns. The situation of De Wet 
was in some respects not unlike that of Cronje on the day 
before the battle of Paardeberg, and the intention of Lord 
Roberts was to turn it to much the same account. The 
mounted troops under French were to make a detour of 
17 miles round and out of reach of the enemy's left flank, 
and so cut off his retreat to Bloemfontein ; when these 
troops had been planted completely in rear of the enemy's 
hne, Kelly- Kenny's division was to attack his left and drive 
him north towards the Modder ; the 7th Division was to 
threaten the centre, and the 9th Division the right. To 
make the plan a success it was necessary, first and foremost, 
to ensure that French should be sufficiently near to his 
destination before the Boers either knew of the turning 
movement or were alarmed by the advance of Kelly-Kenny 
against their left. In other words, accurate timing and 
perfect co-ordination were the predominant factors. 

On the afternoon of the 6th Lord Roberts assembled 
the Commanding Generals at headquarters and gave to each 
a copy of the instructions he had himself prepared. These 
contained a very clear description of his general plan, but 
nothing about the time at which the different divisions 
were to start. This was verbally discussed afterwards, and 
apparently French left the conference under the impression 
that he was to start at 3 a.m., whereas Kelly- Kenny, who 
was to follow him for part of the way, understood that 
French would start at 2 a.m. In addition to this misunder- 
standing other difficulties arose owing to the absence of 
good staff arrangements, and, to cut a long story short, 
the movement of Kelly-Kenny's division next morning 
was entirely blocked for some time by the cavalry, and the 
cavalry itself was not able to move nearly so fast as had 



ii6 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

been expected. The result was that long before French 
had time to reach their rear the Boers perceived that an 
enveloping movement was in progress and promptly began 
to fall back eastward, thus escaping, with practically no 
loss, from the toils within which it had been hoped to entrap 
them. 

The method adopted by Lord Roberts for conveying his 
intentions to his Generals is one that is often necessary, 
as it helps to preserve secrecy and enables a Commander-in- 
Chief to explain his plans in greater detail than is possible 
in the crystalhsed paragraphs of operation orders ; but 
it should never be made, as it was at Poplar Grove, a 
substitute for those orders. Had Lord Roberts' instructions 
been afterwards translated into concrete operation orders, 
and march-tables been worked out by the staff, definite 
hours of starting for each division would have been laid 
down in writing and all misunderstanding prevented or 
removed. 

The failure at Poplar Grove was the more unfortunate 
because the Boers were then in a very despondent frame of 
mind. Cronje's force had been captured a few days before, 
Kimberley and Ladysmith had been set free, and if, as Lord 
Roberts intended, De Wet had been forced into the bed of 
the Modder, and there surrounded, the effect of this further 
disaster might have gone far to end the war. Whether 
better staff work and the issue of proper operation orders 
would have made success certain at Poplar Grove and so 
shortened the war by perhaps as much as two years, may 
be a debatable point, but there can be no question that 
success could not be expected unless these conditions were 
fulfiUed. 

After the action headquarters moved to Poplar Grove 
and remained there till the loth. The army then again 
advanced, the left column, under French and including 
Kelly-Kenny's division, fighting a sharp engagement on 
the Brief ontein ridge, of which we had a good view from 
Driefontein Farm. The severe punishment which the 
Boers received caused them to beat a hurried retreat, and 
they fell back that night in disorder towards Bloemf ontein. 

On the nth we reached Assvogel Kop, Venter's Vallei 



OCCUPATION OF BLOEMFONTEIN 117 

on the 12th, and next morning the Mayor of Bloemfontein 
and three of the leading citizens came out and ceremoniously 
surrendered the town. Shortly afterwards it was entered 
by the Commander-in-Chief and the headquarters staff, 
and the Union Jack was hoisted on the President's house. 
The troops bivouacked for the most part outside the town, 
as Lord Roberts was anxious that the inhabitants, whom 
it was hoped would soon become British subjects, should 
be put to as Httle inconvenience and discomfort as possible. 

Thanks to soimd strategy and to the fortitude and 
gallantry of the troops, the thirty days' operations which 
terminated with the occupation of Bloemfontein had 
changed the whole aspect of the war. For the great results 
achieved the principal credit must of course be accorded to 
the Commander-in-Chief, since upon him rested the responsi- 
bility for the consequences of the strategical decision he 
took, whether they proved to be good or bad, and more- 
over the success was largely due to the imphcit confidence 
which the troops placed in him. To what extent, if any, 
Henderson's counsels contributed to the strategy adopted 
I am not in a position to say, and he was far too modest a 
man to talk about it. But one cannot help being struck by 
the fact that, after he had left headquarters, the operations 
were unproductive of similar marked successes, and that 
there was a strong tendency to attach too much importance 
to the occupation of towns and too httle to the decisive 
defeat of the enemy's forces, by which alone complete 
victory could be secured. 

If the standard of staff work and tactics in the march 
from the Modder to Bloemfontein had equalled that of 
strategy the results might have been even greater than they 
were ; but the nature and value of staff duties were not yet 
properly appreciated, while tactics suffered from a desire on 
the part of the High Command to avoid casualties. The 
reluctance to fight what were termed costly battles tended to 
hamper the subordinate commanders, who, not unnaturally, 
felt that their capacity would be judged mainly by the number 
of casualties incurred. This feeling was apt to cause them 
to hesitate when they should have displayed determination 
and boldness, and in the long run the policy was Hable to 



ii8 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

defeat its own end, since half-hearted and indecisive fighting 
was hkely to make the war-aggregate of casualties greater 
than if the struggle were relentlessly fought out from the 
first and without so much regard to immediate losses. 

On the 17th, while headquarters was still at Jacobsdal, 
Henderson's health, which for some time past had been 
indifferent, completely broke down. He had been careless 
of himself, and so immersed in his work that he had neglected 
to fit himself out with the ordinary campaigning require- 
ments, he carried no food for use in emergency, and as far as 
I remember he did not possess even a water-bottle. Added 
to this, the heat on the 17th was intense, the only water we 
had was particularly bad and had a most offensive smell, 
and the whole of the transport lagged far behind. We of 
the staff did our best out of our scanty store to provide for 
his needs, and I begged him to rest quietly on my camp- 
bed, but he was not to be persuaded. Most of the day 
he worked hard, dressed in pyjamas, studying the important 
events which were happening, discussing with the Com- 
mander-in-Chief the action to be taken, and generally doing 
the duty of a Chief of the General Staff, the real Chief of 
Staff, Lord Kitchener, being away at the front with Kelly- 
Kenny's division. The following day he became so ill that 
he had to be sent back to Cape Town. We parted from him 
with sorrow, and he of course was grievously disappointed 
to reUnquish his work which had begun with such remark- 
able success. He was succeeded as Director of InteUigence 
by Lieutenant - Colonel (now Major- General Sir) Colin 
Mackenzie, a contemporary of mine at the Staff College. 

From Cape Town Henderson was sent back to England, 
and owing to continued ill-health took no further part in 
the war. Later, he was appointed to write the official 
history of it, which he commenced with an account of the 
political events leading up to hostilities and a description 
of the military resources available on both sides. His idea 
was that without full knowledge of these conditions the 
reader would not be able properly to understand many of 
the earlier military decisions and dispositions which were to 
a great extent necessarily based upon them. At the end of 
1902 his health again gave way and he was ordered to 



OFFICIAL HISTORIES 119 

Egypt, where he died in March of the following year, leaving 
behind him a gap in the British army which has not yet 
been filled, and a memory which is held m sincere affection 
by all who had the privilege to know him. 

The Government subsequently decided that it was un- 
desirable to publish in the history of the war any discussion 
of the questions which had been at issue between them and 
the two Republics before the outbreak of hostilities, or that 
had been the subject of controversy at home, and therefore 
that portion of it which Henderson had compiled was entirely 
recast. 

In connection with this decision I may observe that for 
a soldier to write an official history of military operations, 
which shall be acceptable to the Government departments 
concerned, is invariably a ticklish task. On the one hand, 
it may be impossible for him to make clear the reasons for 
the military action taken unless he first describes the 
political conditions and instructions which, to a greater or 
less degree, governed that action ; while, on the other hand, 
a cold, comprehensive review of the proceedings which 
led up to those conditions and instructions does not, in the 
light of after events, always afford very pleasant reading to 
those who took part in them. 

I remember one rather striking instance, amongst others 
within my experience, of an officer getting into trouble on 
this account. He was compiling, imder my orders, the 
official report on certain military operations which had been 
preceded and were attended by particularly complicated 
questions of international poHcy, and knowing that undue 
reference to these questions would be resented, I gave him 
directions to leave them severely alone except in so far 
as it was absolutely essential to mention them, and even 
then he was to take his facts from the Blue books — already 
available to the public — and rigidly to exclude any political 
information of a secret or confidential nature that we might 
have in our archives. I trusted that by this means all 
objections would be obviated, and I know that '•^lie officer set 
about his work with the intention of crea\ng none, and 
that he confined his political researches to the Blue books. 
But when his report was submitted to the departmental 



120 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

authorities in Whitehall for approval, before being printed 
off, some of its poUtical paragraphs were considerably 
modified or expunged altogether, and a curt letter from 
the objecting department invited us to mind our own 
business in future. 

Before continuing the advance beyond Bloemfontein it 
was necessary to refit and reorganise the army, and we had 
also to cope with a serious outbreak of typhoid — an epidemic 
which in those days was accepted as almost unpreventable 
in time of war. The medical services were not organised 
adequately to deal with the ever-increasing number of sick ; 
there was great dif&culty in providing suitable accommoda- 
tion for the patients ; eight wagon loads of medical comforts 
had been lost at Waterval Drift ; and the result of all this 
was that many of our fever-stricken men died whose Hves 
might have been saved had better treatment and properly 
equipped accommodation been available. The efficiency of 
the medical arrangements for the care of the sick and 
wounded has since been improved a thousand-fold, as shown 
by the marvellous work done in the Great War, and in this 
respect as in many others the South African war was of 
inestimable benefit to us. 

The system of guerilla warfare adopted by the Boers after 
the occupation of Bloemfontein, and continued throughout 
the war, made Intelligence duties much more difficult than 
before. The enemy's plan now was to act aggressively 
against different points on our line of communication, and 
to pick up elsewhere any helpless or unwary detachment 
which promised to be an easy prey, and as the bodies he 
employed were widely dispersed, moved swiftly, were subject 
to variable combinations, and were favoured by the nature 
of the country, it was impossible to place or number them 
for more than a few hours at a time. We derived much 
information from the mail-bags seized at various places, for 
the Boers wrote very freely to each other, but as a rule it 
came to hand too late to be of much use except for general 
purposes, and we had to rely mainly upon our Intelligence 
Scouts. These scouts, working under the direction of Cap- 
tain (now General Sir) G. F. Milne, would track the com- 
mandos from place to place, and sometimes lie out watching 



ADVANCE ON PRETORIA 121 

them for several days and nights in succession, bringing or 
sending back most valuable intelligence. Most of them 
were recruited from South Africa, some being white and 
some coloured, while some of them came from other parts 
of the world. One of the latter was Mr. F. R. Bumham, 
the famous American scout. He was a great acquisition, 
and carried out many hazardous enterprises with skill and 
success. 

The army being at last more or less reorganised and re- 
equipped, we set out for Pretoria on the 3rd May. The 
general plan was to advance on a front extending from 
Ladysmith to Kimberley, Buller on the right with about 
45,000 men. Hunter and Methuen on the left with 10,000, 
the columns in the centre directly under Lord Roberts being 
about 43,000 strong. Brandfort was occupied the same 
day with the loss of about half a dozen men ; the passage 
of the Vet river was forced two days later ; the Zand 
river, the next obstacle, was crossed on the loth, with the 
loss of about a hundred men ; and on the following day 
Kroonstad was abandoned and President Steyn went off to 
Lindley, proclaiming that place to be the new capital and 
seat of government of the Free State. From that time 
onwards organised co-operation between the two RepubHcs 
ceased, the Free Staters apparently thinking that as they 
had borne the brunt of the British attack for nearly three 
months it was for the Transvaalers and not for them to 
defend the Transvaal. British headquarters entered Kroon- 
stad on the 12th May and remained there for ten days, so 
as to allow the railway in rear to be repaired and the army 
to be pulled together once more. 

I have already mentioned that Grierson held the appoint- 
ment of Assistant Adjutant-General, but as a matter of fact 
he was charged with duties belonging to the department 
of the Quartermaster-General, a curious feature in the 
organisation of the headquarters staff being that it contained 
no officer designated by the name of that department. It 
was Grierson's business to allot accommodation for the troops, 
and in order to improve upon the defective arrangements 
made at Bloemfontein for the disposal of the sick he allocated 
the church and other public buildings in Kroonstad for the 



122 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

purpose, telling the Landrost to provide so many hundred 
mattresses by four o'clock in the afternoon. The Landrost 
raised many objections, and said that there was nothing like 
that number in the shops, upon which Grierson observed, 
in rather forcible language, that he was not thinking merely 
of what the shops could produce, that there must be a large 
number of mattresses in the town, and that the full number 
demanded must be forthcoming by the hour named. The 
Landrost went off to Lord Roberts to complain of having 
been harshly treated and threatened with punishment if he 
did not comply with the order, and Grierson was then sent 
for to give his side of the story. He admitted that in his 
conversation with the Landrost he had freely drawn upon 
aU the languages with which he was acquainted, including 
Scotch and Hindustani, so as to ensure prompt compliance 
with his order, and that he had done so because he felt that 
the comfort of the sick should have priority over everything 
and everybody. He was quietly requested to treat the 
inhabitants with more sympathy and consideration in 
future, and, of course, he received the admonition with 
becoming respect. He gained his object, however, and in 
telling us of the incident that night at dinner he finished 
up by saying, " I got my beds, the men are now on them, 
and that, after all, is the only thing that matters." 

Somebody present at dinner reminded us of the old 
story told of a similar incident that occinrred in the 
Peninsula war, of which the sequel was rather different. 
General Craufurd, the commander of the famous Light 
Division, once directed the head man of a Spanish town 
to collect certain supplies for the troops, at a given time 
and place, otherwise he would be shot. The Spaniard 
complained to the Duke of Wellington of the General's 
high-handed conduct, and said that he could not possibly 
carry out the order. " Do you mean to tell me," the Duke 
asked, " that General Craufurd threatened to shoot you ? " 
" He did," repHed the Spaniard, thinking the Duke was 
taking his part. The answer he got was : " Well, if I were 
in your place I would produce the supplies somehow, for, 
believe me. General Craufurd is a man of his word and will 
shoot you if you don't." 



HARDSHIPS ON THE ADVANCE 123 

We left Kroonstad on the 22nd May, entered the Trans- 
vaal five days later, and Johannesburg fell on the 30th May. 
Next day it was formally handed over to us, our infantry 
marched through the main square, and the Dutch flags 
were hauled down from the government buildings and 
replaced by the Union Jack. A similar ceremony took 
place at Pretoria on the 5th June, and the Transvaal Govern- 
ment thus became vagabond like that of the sister Republic. 

The three hundred miles march from Bloemfontein to 
Pretoria had been dull and irksome to a degree, and I 
suppose that no military operations were ever more lacking 
in interest and variety. Throughout the march the Boers, 
greatly inferior to us in numbers, would hold the river lines 
and other defensible positions, covering a wide front ; our 
mounted troops were then sent round one or other of their 
flanks with the object of enveloping them ; and when this 
movement had proceeded up to a certain point the Boers 
would withdraw out of harm's way to take up a similar 
position farther to the rear. But although no action worth 
calling a battle was fought, the march itself was attended 
by many hardships. Day after day our troops plodded 
silently on over the apparently endless prairies ; sometimes 
the sun was blazing hot, at others there was a bitterly 
cold wind against which no clothing seemed proof ; food 
was scanty, and shelterless bivouacs formed the only 
resting-places at night. In fact the march was unrelieved 
by any redeeming feature except hope, and our splendid 
infantry deserve the highest credit for the way in which 
they doggedly stuck to their monotonous daily toil until 
the fall of Pretoria, the second Boer capital, gave them 
their reward and brought the pacification of the country 
definitely within sight. 

The Boers were now more than ever convinced that 
their one and only chance of salvation lay in striking the 
slender line of communications which trailed away for 
hundreds of miles in rear of our exhausted troops. De Wet 
became particularly active, capturing considerable numbers 
of prisoners, and burning and destroying large and invaluable 
quantities of food and stores. Refusing to be disturbed by 
these raids, vexatious and inconvenient though they were, 



124 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

the Commander-in-Chief set in motion all the troops he 
could coUect to attack the enemy, some 6000 strong, who 
had taken up a position astride the railway about fifteen 
miles east of Pretoria. After some desultory fighting on 
the nth and 12th of June the Boers disappeared during 
the night, part of them under De la Rey circling round to 
the western Transvaal, and the remainder under Botha 
retiring eastward. This engagement, known as the battle 
of Diamond Hill, cost us less than 180 casualties, of whom 
20 were killed. 

Before the advance could be resumed it was again 
necessary to refit the army, and make good the wear and 
tear amongst the men, animals, and material caused by the 
long march from Bloemfontein. This took about six weeks, 
and on the 23rd of July, when the troops again moved 
forward, the Boers at once evacuated Balmoral, which had 
been Botha's headquarters since the action at Diamond 
Hill, and two days later they retired through Middelburg, 
eighty miles east of Pretoria. 

On the night of the 25th of July, the date of our occupa- 
tion of Balmoral, there was a terrible storm of wind and 
rain — the worst of the many bad storms we had encountered. 
The troops suffered severely from exposure in their bivouacs, 
and next morning the adjacent hill-sides were covered with 
dead and d5dng transport animals. In many places whole 
teams of dead oxen and mules lay heaped together. 

Much of this loss was due to neglect on somebody's part 
to order the transport columns to march earher in the day. 
The order was not given till the afternoon, and consequently 
the columns were caught in the hills by the storm and 
darkness long before they had finished their march, the 
tracks became slippery and impassable, confusion reigned 
everywhere, a great part of the columns were out all night, 
and the animals perished by hundreds. It was pitiable to 
see these fine beasts in their death-throes being shot by the 
veterinary surgeons, who went about amongst them and 
mercifully put out of their agony those which had no chance 
of recovery. 

After the occupation of Middelburg the forward move- 
ment was again suspended, and soon afterwards a great part 



RETURN TO ENGLAND 125 

of the troops in the Transvaal were turned on to pursue 
De Wet, who had crossed the Vaal from the Free State on 
the 6th of August. 

Nine columns composed of about 30,000 men were 
engaged in this the first of the De Wet hunts, Lord Kitchener 
being in command of the combined operations. De Wet 
owed his escape on this occasion, as on many subsequent 
ones, to misunderstandings on the part of his pursuers, and 
in the circumstances it was practically impossible to pre- 
vent misunderstanding. Intercommunication between the 
different British columns was bad, and therefore they did 
not always know what each other had done or would do ; 
the enemy could always get the best possible information, 
whereas we could seldom depend upon what we obtained ; 
and such information as we got and sent to the columns 
often arrived too late to be of use. At headquarters 
we were usually able to trace De Wet's movements. The 
dif&culty was to inform the columns within useful time. 

Headquarters stayed at Pretoria throughout the remain- 
ing period of Lord Roberts' command, only a small portion 
of it accompanying him when the advance eastward was 
resumed on August the 26th. I was one of those left behind, 
and saw no more of the operations. Early in October I was 
ordered back for duty at the War Office, and a month later 
took up the same appointment of Staff Captain in the Colonial 
Section as I had held a year before. Meanwhile I had reached 
the rank of Major in the ordinary course of regimental 
promotion. 

For my services in the war I was given a " mention in 
despatches," but only in the class then known as ** also 
ran," and when the promotions and other rewards were 
published my name did not appear in the list. I had hoped 
that it would, but whatever chance of this there might have 
been was destroyed by my having incurred the displeasure 
of Lord Roberts, owing to a misunderstanding that arose in 
regard to certain instructions which I had issued to an officer 
just before I left South Africa. As this officer was on the 
spot when the mistake came to light and could give his 
version of it to headquarters, whilst I was in England 
and had no opportunity of giving mine either to Lord 



126 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Roberts or any one else, the blame for it rested with me. 
The matter was later put right by some of my friends, and 
in a Supplementary Gazette published in November 1901 I 
was promoted Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel. As the brevet 
took effect from the date of the first Gazette, November 
1900, I lost nothing by the delay. 



SBSI^S* 



CHAPTER IX 

HEAD OF THE FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SECTION, 

WAR OFFICE 

Resume work in Intelligence Division — Lord Roberts returns to England 
and becomes Commander-in-Chief — ^Visit defended ports — Intelli- 
gence and mobilisation combined under the charge of Sir W. Nicholson 
— Am made head of the Foreign Section of Intelligence — Promoted 
Colonel 1904 — Selection of Military Attaches — Preparations for war 
hampered by lack of a policy — Our international position — Defence 
of India — Examination of it and Lord Kitchener's objections to our 
calculations — Esher Committee — Reorganisation of War Of&ce and 
formation of General Staff — Post of Commander-in-Chief aboHshed 
— Sir N. Lyttelton becomes first Chief of the General Staff — Com- 
mittee of Imperial Defence estabhshed — War preparations now 
become more feasible — Bogy of Russian attack on India disappears 
and contingency of war with Germany begins to take its place — 
Agreements made with France, Russia, and Japan — Expeditionary 
Force formed — Grierson and Huguet largely instrumental in this — 
Lord Roberts resigns from Committee of Imperial Defence — First 
attempt to give a military lecture — Visits between 1902-190 6 to 
Northern Africa, Canada, America, the Balkans, Belgium, Portugal, 
Germany, and other European countries — Leave War Of&ce on 
expiration of appointment — Placed on half -pay, 1907. 

Lord Roberts returned to England at the end of igoo and 
became Commander-in-Chief in place of Lord Wolseley, 
whose departure from the War Office was greatly regretted 
by all who had served under him. He had given many 
years of faithful service to the State, and the ungenerous 
criticisms levelled against him in Parliament, concerning his 
share of the defects exposed by the South African war, made 
a very unpleasant impression upon those who were aware 
of the numerous obstructions to military efficiency, in high 
as well as in low places, with which he had for so long to 
contend, not only when Commander-in-Chief but before he 
held that appointment. It is doubtful if, in face of these 
obstructions, any other man of the time could have done 

127 



128 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

half as much for the education and training of the British 
Army as was achieved by this eminent soldier. 

The war had shown the necessity for having a more 
efficient military organisation, both for foreign service and 
home defence, and following upon the appointment of Mr. 
Brodrick (now Earl of Midleton) as War Secretary various 
measures for improving the training, equipment, and organ- 
isation of the forces were carried out. The basis of them 
was, in addition to an adequate provision for home defence, 
the ability to send three army corps abroad. The un- 
necessarily large garrisons of defended ports were also 
brought under revision. These, consisting mainly of 
volunteers, had in many cases been recruited more in 
accordance with the local supply of men than with the 
needs of local defence, and they included an excessive 
number of garrison artillery, this branch being more popular 
than the infantry. It was therefore decided to bring the 
numbers into line with actual requirements, and for this 
purpose a War Office committee was appointed to visit the 
ports, twenty-six in number, and, in consultation with the 
local authorities, settle the garrison of each on the spot. I 
was made a member of the committee and so derived much 
useful knowledge of coast defence matters, which stood me 
in good stead in after years and more particularly when I 
was in command of the forces in Great Britain. The work 
of the committee extended over a period of about five 
months. 

Several other useful reforms were made, both in the 
commands and at the War Office, but I shall mention only 
the one which directly concerned myself — the amalgama- 
tion of the Mobilisation and InteUigence Divisions under 
the control of Sir William Nicholson, whose title of Director 
of Mihtary Intelligence was altered to Director- General of 
Mobilisation and Intelligence, and his functions were corre- 
spondingly enlarged. 

The Intelligence Division was subdivided into three 
sections, of which the first, or Imperial, Section (practically 
the old Colonial Section under another name) was made 
responsible for the preparation of plans of operations for 
the military defence of the Empire, and for the collection 



THE INTELLIGENCE DIVISION 129 

of information relating to its military geography and 
resources, the United Kingdom and India being excluded 
in each case. The second, or Forbign, Section was made 
responsible for collecting information regarding the military 
resources, geography, and armed forces of all foreign 
countries, conducting correspondence with military attaches, 
and examining foreign journals and Hterature. The third, 
or Special, Section dealt with censorship, preparation of 
maps, maintenance of Hbraries, and office routine in general. 
Each of the three sections was placed under an Assistant 
Quartermaster-General, and divided into a number of sub- 
sections each headed by a Deputy Assistant Quartermaster- 
General. In this way the officers of the Intelligence Division 
once more took their designation from the Quartermaster- 
General's department, although they had no more connection 
with that department than they had had with the Adjutant- 
General's department, the designation by which they had 
been known for some years previously. 

Altham was appointed head of the Imperial Section ; 
Trotter, who had been Assistant Adjutant- General of the 
old InteUigence Division, remained with the Special Section ; 
and to my surprise Nicholson selected me for the Foreign 
Section. Thus at one bound I went from Staff "Captain to 
Assistant Quartermaster- General, and from being the junior 
of two officers in the Colonial Section I became the chief of 
a section having a staff of nine officers. This advancement 
came at a most opportune moment, for about the same time 
my promotion to Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel was annoimced, 
and according to the regulations of the period the appoint- 
ment of Assistant Quartermaster-General automatically 
carried with it promotion to Colonel at the end of three 
years in the brevet rank just mentioned. As the brevet 
dated from the 29th November 1900, it foUowed that if 
I continued to hold the new post tiU the 29th November 
1903, I would then become Colonel. This happened, and 
from being one of the oldest Lieutenants in the army in 
1895 I became in less than nine years one of the youngest 
Colonels. 

The new appointment had the further advantage of 
extending my studies to countries with which I had not 

K 



130 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

previously been officially connected. At Simla experience had 
been gained in the affairs of India and the adjoining states ; 
in the Colonial Section I had learnt something about the 
remaining British possessions oversea ; the Foreign Section, 
embracing all foreign countries, completed the circuit of the 
globe, and gave me a valuable insight into international 
questions of great importance. 

On taking over the new duties I found that, chiefly 
owing to an inadequate staff, imperfect organisation, and 
the lack of clear direction, there was not, with one exception, 
which shall be nameless, a single up-to-date statement giving 
a comprehensive and considered estimate of the military 
resources of any foreign country. One reason for this was 
that there was as yet no General Staff, and the Intelligence 
Division, which strove to do the work of a General Staff, 
had been starved. The few officers employed in it had 
worked hard and done their best, but the system and circum- 
stances were all against them. 

There were in the Foreign Section some smaU non- 
confidential hand-books, largely compiled from newspapers 
and other unofficial publications, which related to the 
strength and organisation of most of the foreign armies. 
These, though good enough in their way as an elementary 
basis to work upon, did not contain, and did not pretend 
to contain, anything of much value in regard to strategical 
questions, strong places, or the general military resources 
of the countries to which they referred. There were also 
various memoranda which dealt with certain operations 
that we might have to undertake in the event of war, but 
these, again, though useful for the specific purpose they 
were intended to serve, did not give a complete survey of 
the enemy's resources as a whole, or anything like it. 

After ascertaining how matters stood I discussed them 
with Nicholson and we agreed that we must make the best 
tentative arrangements we could, and try to reach a higher 
standard later on. The first essential was to obtain more 
complete information than we then had, and to do this 
more funds were required for intelligence work, as well as 
a better method of appointing military attaches. More 
funds were provided, thanks to the ready co-operation of 



MILITARY ATTACHfiS 131 

the Foreign Office ; more proficient military attaches were 
not, in all cases. 

These officers were for the most part underpaid, and 
were all paid at the same rate, irrespective of the particular 
capital to which they were accredited. That Paris life was 
infinitely more expensive than Hfe at Peking, and that the 
amount of information procurable by a military attache was 
largely governed by the amount of money he could spend 
in entertaining those from whom he might hope to procure 
it, were facts which left the Treasury mind unmoved. The 
result was that these important posts were often given to 
officers who were rich, in preference to officers who were 
not, though the latter might be professionally much better 
qualified to fill them. 

Other influences were brought to bear on the selection 
of military attaches (which did not rest solely or even mainly 
with the War Office), and it was not uncommon for an 
officer to be chosen because he was a society favourite, or 
had an attractive wife, or a friend in the Foreign Office, 
or for some equally insufficient reason. I have known 
officers to be selected who, besides being unsuitable on 
mihtary grounds, had no knowledge of the language of the 
country to which they were sent, or of any other except 
their own. 

I remember a mihtary attache at one of the European 
capitals who, regarded by the other attaches as a favourable 
target for their practical jokes, sent us a map, under every 
precaution of secrecy in the way of sealing-wax, red-tape, and 
extra envelopes, showing the peace distribution of the armed 
forces of a certain country, which he stated had been 
confidentially given to him by a friendly colleague. In- 
credible as it may seem, the price of the map and the name 
of its continental publisher were printed at the bottom, the 
sender either not having observed this or being too ignorant 
of European languages to be able to read it ! In the case 
of more than one military attach^ the lack of a reasonable 
knowledge of the language of the country was responsible for 
many ludicrous as well as alarming reports being sent to us, 
and it was no doubt equally answerable for our not receiving 
much information that ought to have been sent. I tried 



132 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

to ensure that only properly qualified officers should be 
selected, but the exterior influences mentioned sometimes 
proved to be too strong for me. 

Another improvement needed was to give my subordin- 
ates greater facilities for visiting the countries with which 
they had to deal, so that they might acquire a personal 
knowledge of them and not be entirely dependent, as some 
of them were, upon what they read or were told. The time 
and money expended upon these visits, which I sanctioned 
as frequently as possible, were more than justified. I was 
fortimate in having some very hard-working and capable 
assistants during the five years I was in charge of 
the Foreign Section. They included Lawrence of the 17th 
Lancers; Macbean, Forestier- Walker, Crowe, Fasson, Milne, 
and Thwaites of the artillery; Edmonds and Williams of the 
engineers ; Romer, Malcolm, and Ljmden Bell of the infantry ; 
Holman and Black of the Indian army. Nearly aU held 
high positions in the Great War. Milne commanded the 
British army in Macedonia from May 1916 onwards, and 
Lawrence became Chief of the General Staff on the West 
Front in January 1918. 

Since it is not possible, and should never be necessary to 
try, to prepare at one and the same time for half-a-dozen 
different wars, soldiers charged with the duty of preparation 
aim at making ready for the greatest and the most probable 
war in which their army may become engaged. I set out 
with this purpose in view, and was immediately confronted 
with the difficulty of deciding what particular war ought to 
be regarded as the most probable, as this depended upon 
the policy of the Government, and upon that question I was 
not in possession of any definite pronouncement. I therefore 
took steps to obtain one, beginning with the examination of 
some old papers which dealt with our military obhgations 
under various treaties and agreements, and I found that 
whilst the necessity for fulfilling some of these obligations 
was unlikely ever to arise, others were of great importance 
and in the near future might possibly make heavy demands 
upon us. I prepared a memorandum in which I reviewed 
the whole of them from a military standpoint, taking each 
one separately, and after discussing the responsibilities they 



THE INTERNATIONAL POSITION 133 

involved I asked for instructions as to whether it was 
desired that the army should be prepared to carry them 
out. My object was twofold : first, to take steps for pro- 
ciuing the information required for those operations which, 
in pursuance of the policy of the Government, might one 
day have to be imdertaken ; and, secondly, to avoid waste 
of time over those which in all probability would never 
be undertaken. 

After being approved by my military superiors, the 
memorandum proceeded on its way to the ministers con- 
cerned, and I hoped to receive such a reply from them as 
would enable me to direct the work of my officers into the 
most profitable channels. One ministerial minute was, to 
the best of my memory, something like this : " I do not 
know what benefit you expect to derive from meditations 
of this kind. At any rate, I can contribute nothing useful. 
The policy to be adopted in the contingency you mention 
must necessarily be decided by the Government of the day, 
when the time comes, and it cannot be decided now." I 
quite realised that a definite decision could not then be 
reached in respect of a situation which might not arise for 
several years, if ever, since the attendant circumstances 
might change in the meantime ; but I had hoped, neverthe- 
less, that my cherished memorandum would elicit somewhat 
better guidance than was furnished by the minute just 
quoted, and that I would not have to continue to rely 
entirely on my own judgment as to the preparations that 
should be made. I became wiser as I grew older. 

Our international position was not altogether satisfactory 
at this period, and there were outstanding questions with 
more than one of the Great Powers which might any day 
give rise to trouble. For example, France was feeling sore 
over the Fashoda incident ; her colonial party were, we 
thought, unduly aggressive ; and, in general, it had become 
the fashion for the two nations to look upon each other as 
possible future enemies. There was never any good reason 
why they should have drifted into this regrettable frame 
of mind, but Germany may have been answerable for it to 
some extent. Russia, as for years past, was considered to 
be another country with whom we might come into conflict. 



134 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

and it was a common argument that her proceedings in the 
Middle East and Central Asia could best be countered by 
our forming an alliance with Germany. 

I had not been a year in my new post, however, before 
I became convinced, and stated so officially, that instead 
of regarding Germany as a suitable ally we ought to look 
upon her as our most formidable rival, and that the con- 
tingency of war with her ought to set the standard of our 
military requirements. Either because of the disbelief that 
such a war would ever come, or because of the idea that 
if it came we would not fight it out on the Continent, this 
opinion was not yet shared by those responsible for laying 
down policy, and they decided that the defence of India 
as against Russia should be the first problem examined. 
The Commander-in-Chief, Lord Roberts, having passed 
most of his life in India, was also inchned to give that 
country priority of treatment, and for several months I 
was kept busy in preparing for the Defence Committee of 
the Cabinet a series of papers on the subject. Thanks 
to my four years' apprenticeship in the Intelligence Branch 
at Simla, and to the knowledge of the North-West Frontier 
which I had acquired on the spot, I was fairly well 
acquainted with the conditions which govern military 
operations in this part of the world, but some of the questions 
propounded were nevertheless beyond my power to answer. 

I remember once being asked to prepare a statement 
showing the monthly progress likely to be made by the 
opposing forces, during the first six months of war, in the 
event of a Russian advance on India through Afghanistan. 
The situation in all wars is apt to develop in a totally un- 
expected manner, and this particular problem was beset with 
numerous uncertainties pecuharly its own : for instance, the 
attitude of the Afghans, who were constantly fighting amongst 
themselves and about whom the only sure thing was that they 
would pillage and murder both belligerents indiscriminately 
whenever occasion offered ; the feasibility of our collect- 
ing within given periods of time hundreds of thousands of 
camels for transport purposes, for which no reliable arrange- 
ments had been made or could be made, and which depended 
partly upon the season of the year ; and the rate at which 



DEFENCE OF INDIA 135 

roads and railways could be constructed across the 500 
miles of mountainous country lying between the Russian 
and British frontiers. 

These and similar calculations could be nothing more 
than mere guess-work, different people making different 
guesses, and this was especially so as regards railways, 
because no survey for them had ever been made except for 
the stretch between Quetta and Kandahar at the end of the 
last Afghan war, and even it had since been lost ! How- 
ever, assisted by Holman, who was in charge of the Indian 
sub-section, I produced the required statement, with maps, 
showing what the dispositions of the British and Russian 
armies might be at the end of each month, and, in order 
that there should be no misapprehension about it, I added 
that it was practically worthless, and for the reasons once 
given by Moltke, who had said : 

" It is a delusion to imagine that a plan of campaign 
can be laid down far ahead and fulfilled with exactitude. 
The collision with the enemy creates a new situation in 
accordance with its result. Some things intended will 
have become impracticable ; others, which originally seemed 
impossible, become feasible. All that the leader of an army 
can do is to form a correct estimate of the circumstances, 
decide for the best for the moment, and carry out his purpose 
imfiinchingly." 

When our calculations were communicated to India they 
did not at all meet with the approval of Lord Kitchener, 
the Commander-in-Chief, who was then pressing the home 
authorities to sanction certain reforms in the Indian army, 
including considerable additions to its strength. In order 
to show how utterly wrong the calculations were, he caused 
a " war game " to be played at Simla illustrating the danger 
to which India would be exposed if attacked by Russia, and 
he sent the " proceedings " of it to the India Office. 

It is always wise when studying problems of this kind 
to take, within reason, the circumstances least favourable 
to oneself, and as there were many important matters con- 
nected with the Indian army which then urgently needed 
improvement Lord Kitchener may be excused for making 
his own case appear as bad as he possibly could. But he 



136 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

" protested " a little too much in his war game. He 
assumed, amongst other things, that Russia would be able 
to transfer large numbers of troops from Europe to Central 
Asia, and coUect there hundreds of thousands of camels and 
other transport animals, ready to jump across the Oxus — 
a formidable river — and enter Afghanistan, almost if not 
quite before we knew anything about what she was doing. 
The result of this invaluable start and other exaggerations 
was that, in the imaginary advance which followed, the 
Russian troops bounded from one success to another with 
the most astonishing rapidity, and to the complete over- 
throw of the existing arrangements for Indian defence. 

The arrival of the " proceedings *' created some excite- 
ment in Whitehall, where they were apparently regarded 
as affording infalhble proof of what Russia could actually 
do, and undeniable evidence that we had been terribly out 
in the calculations we had made. They found their way 
to me for examination, and I had to explain that a war 
game was by no means the same thing as war, and that 
some of the assumptions made in the game were quite un- 
tenable. A lengthy correspondence with India ensued, and 
officers were sent home to prove that the Indian calcula- 
tions were right and ours were wrong. They failed to 
carry their point, but the game probably went a long way 
towards fulfilling Lord Kitchener's real purpose, which 
was to obtain early sanction for the reforms he was 
advocating. 

In 1903 the Esher Committee, consisting of Lord Esher, 
Sir John (afterwards Lord) Fisher, and Sir George Clarke 
(now Lord Sydenham), was appointed to advise the Govern- 
ment as to the reorganisation of the War Ofl&ce. It recom- 
mended that the old constitution should be replaced by an 
Army Council on lines similar to the Board of Admiralty, 
the post of Commander-in-Chief being aboHshed, and, most 
important of all, that a General Staff should be created. 
This system was introduced in February 1904. Lord Roberts 
left the War Office, becoming a member of the new Com- 
mittee of Imperial Defence, and the heads of the principal 
departments were superseded by other officers, as the new 
measures were held to require the services of new men. 



THE ESHER COMMITTEE 137 

That may have been so, but the scant courtesy with which 
the changes were made was the cause of much adverse 
comment, and not without reason, as it showed but httle 
consideration for the feehngs of the officers who were 
suddenly removed from their posts, after having served 
their country with distinction for a long period of years. 

Nicholson was one of those to go, much to his surprise, 
for he had been frequently consulted by the committee 
with respect to the most suitable organisation to be estab- 
lished, and he apparently had hoped to become the first Chief 
of the newly-formed General Staff. He was quite stunned 
by his abrupt and unexpected dismissal, and although he 
became Quartermaster-General a year or two later, and 
subsequently Chief of the Imperial General Staff, he was 
never quite the same man again. He seemed to have been 
robbed of some of his old mihtary zeal ; and being hurt at 
the treatment he had received, his habit of appearing some- 
what cynical in manner — though in reality a kind-hearted 
man — became rather more pronounced than before. 

The General Staff was organised in three directorates — 
Military operations, Staff duties, and Military training — 
and the post of Chief of the General Staff was entrusted 
to Lieut enant-General Sir Neville Lyttelton. The Mihtary 
operations directorate was practically the existing Intelli- 
gence Division under another name, the head of it being 
my old friend Grierson, and his three immediate subordinates 
were styled Assistant Directors. The Foreign Section of 
the directorate, of which I remained in charge, was expanded 
from four to eight subdivisions, the number of ofiicers in 
it being increased from nine to twenty. 

The Committee of Imperial Defence, also constituted 
on the recommendation of the Esher Committee, absorbed 
the functions of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet 
and of the Colonial Defence Committee. These measures, 
together with the long-overdue formation of a General 
Staff, went far to remedy the hopeless methods by which 
matters concerning the defence of the Empire had pre- 
viously been conducted. For the first time naval and 
military questions now began to be seriously investigated, 
and the activities of the different State departments to 



138 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

be intelligently co-ordinated. Appreciable progress in the 
preparation for war became possible, and plans of opera- 
tions for use in case of need were worked out between 
my section and the Imperial Section presided over by 
Altham, who was later succeeded by CallweU. Taking as 
a pattern the valuable report we had on one country — 
which I have previously mentioned as being the only one 
of its kind in our possession — the military resources of every 
country in the world in which our troops might conceivably 
be employed were surveyed, and by the end of 1906 reasoned 
conclusions thereon had been reached. In the nature of 
things this survey could only be provisional in the first 
instance, but it constituted a systematic beginning which 
could be and was subsequently developed and improved as 
faciUties permitted. 

We were also able, being at last organised as a General 
Staff, to furnish the Foreign Office and the Committee of 
Imperial Defence with considered military advice in regard 
to several international questions which had to be dealt 
with at this time. Amongst them our relations with 
France took a prominent place, for besides the Fashoda 
sore there were disputes connected with Morocco, Egypt, 
Siam, Madagascar, New Hebrides, various Colonial 
boundaries in West and Central Africa, and the fishing 
rights off Newfoundland, the latter wrangle dating back 
to the time of the old French ascendancy in North America. 
Owing to the clear vision of King Edward, who paid his first 
official visit to Paris in May 1903, to the efforts of the two 
Foreign Ministers, Lord Lansdowne and M. Delcasse, and 
to the goodwill shown by the two nations in general, these 
causes of friction were satisfactorily removed by the Anglo- 
French Agreement of 1904, and this, under stress of events, 
quickly developed into the " Entente '* which was destined 
to prove so valuable to both countries ten years later. 

The Entente with France led to a reconsideration of our 
long and dangerous rivalry with Russia, the chief bones of 
contention in this case being Afghanistan, Persia, and 
Tibet. The negotiations were very prolonged — India and 
the India Office as well as the Foreign Office taking part in 
them — and they were still going on when I left the War 



THE GERMAN MENACE 139 

Office at the beginning of 1907. In August of that year, 
however, an agreement was signed, for which Sir Edward 
(now Lord) Grey deserves great credit, and the triple 
entente, as confronting the triple alliance, was thus brought 
into being. 

Another important question upon which the General 
Staff was asked to advise was the renewal and amendment 
of the Anglo- Japanese treaty signed in 1902. It had been 
concluded for a term of five years, but in 1905, while the 
Russo-Japanese war was still in progress, it was replaced 
by a new treaty of wider scope and covering a period of 
ten years. 

A special advantage derived from these and similar 
investigations was that the bogy of a Russian attack on 
India, over which so much labour had been wasted in 1901 
and 1902, was relegated to the background ; and more time 
and thought could be devoted to the real enemy, Germany, 
who, in the eyes of all but the wilfully blind, was pursuing 
a pohcy that was bound to bring her, sooner or later, into 
conflict with us. It is strange that so many people should 
have refused to accept this view. I remember that as late 
as 1912 a Cabinet Minister once said to me, in reply to my 
remark that war with Germany was inevitable : " No, 
General, I would not say inevitable, but conceivable." 
His way of stating the case may have been more technically 
correct than mine, for no war can, strictly speaking, be 
classed as inevitable till it has begun, but mine seemed to 
me the simpler and safer basis to work upon, and it did not 
prove to be inaccurate. 

Grierson was as convinced as myself that the only 
poHcy consistent with the interests of the Empire was an 
active alliance with France and Belgium, and although no 
such aUiance was made arrangements were unofficially 
put in train for ensuring mutual mihtary assistance in case 
of war. I had some capital officers in my German and 
French sections whose business it was to work out the 
details, and as a matter of interest I may add that our 
prophecy at the time was that the Great War would come 
in 1915, the year in which, according to what has since trans- 
pired, the enemy apparently intended that it should come. 



140 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

In combination with Colonel Huguet, the French 
military attache in London, Grierson did more than any 
other officer of his time to estabhsh good relations between 
the French and British armies, and it is true to say that 
the success which attended the despatch of the Expedi- 
tionary Force in 19 14 was due first and foremost to his 
initiative and foresight when Director of Mihtary Operations 
in 1904-1906. During 1905 we visited in company portions 
of the Franco-Belgian frontier on which much of the fighting 
in 1914 took place, and the forecast he then made of the 
course of events proved to be in many respects singularly 
accurate, though I confess that neither of us foresaw the 
four years' struggle against entrenched positions extending 
from the North Sea to Switzerland. 

Grierson was a great favourite with all officers in the 
directorate, and indeed was one of the most popular men 
in the army, particularly so with the rank and file. He 
had an unrivalled knowledge of all foreign armies, more 
especially of the German army, and his sudden death from 
heart failure, when travelHng by train through France 
on the i8th of August 1914 as Commander of the Second 
Army Corps, was one of the tragedies of the war. 

The Expeditionary Force was formed after Mr. (now 
Lord) Haldane became Secretary of State for War in 1905. 
At the same time the mihtia was converted into the Special 
Reserve, with the duty of providing drafts for the regular 
battalions at the front ; and the volunteers became the 
Territorial Force of fourteen divisions for home defence. 
This organisation was a great improvement on the old one, 
but it nevertheless suffered from serious defects. The 
Expeditionary Force was obviously not strong enough to 
intervene effectively in a Franco-German war — judging 
from the extensive preparations for war then being made 
by Germany ; the Special Reserve could not be kept up 
to strength and never was ; while, owing to inadequate 
training and other reasons, a considerable portion of the 
Territorial Force could not be made efficient, and by the 
terms of its engagement it was not available for service 
outside the United Kingdom. 

The fact was, as so often before in our history, that the 



THE COMMITTEE OF IMPERIAL DEFENCE 141 

strength and organisation of our army were not determined 
by the requirements of our liabilities, but by what our 
existing methods of recruiting could produce within the 
financial limits imposed by such annual estimates as it 
was politically expedient to lay before parliament. On 
the other hand, the measures taken to ensure the efficiency 
of the Expeditionary Force — such as it was — and to admit of 
its rapid despatch oversea were far m advance of anything 
previously attempted, while all the world knows that in the 
Great War the Territorial Force covered itself with glory 
in many a hard-fought battle, and provided an invaluable 
first reinforcement to the regular army in France and 
elsewhere. For these results — at the most critical period 
of the war — Lord Haldane is entitled to more gratitude 
than is usually accorded to him. 

It will be remembered that in 1905 Lord Roberts resigned 
his seat on the Committee of Imperial Defence, as he was 
anxious to warn his countrymen of the danger in which 
they stood, and felt that he could not appropriately do this 
while a member of the committee. It so happened that I 
was present at the meeting at which he announced his 
decision and gave his reasons for it. In the discussion 
which ensued the veteran Field-Marshal was of course 
hopelessly outclassed by the professional debaters on the 
committee, his manner of expression being characterised 
rather by blunt honesty than dialectical skill, but he 
remained impervious to aU arguments and in a plain and 
simple way stuck to his guns, being convinced that his 
first duty was to his country, which he believed — and 
rightly so — to be hving in a fool's paradise. He has 
sometimes been taunted for not speaking out and getting 
more done when Commander-in-Chief, but I doubt if he 
himself fully realised the position until 1905. Having once 
reahsed it, nothing could turn him away from the object 
he had in view. England owes much to Lord Roberts, and 
the loss of many lives and much suffering might have been 
averted had his advice been accepted and acted upon 
by those responsible — soldiers as well as civiHans — ^for the 
welfare of the Empire. 

It was whilst serving as Assistant Director of Military 



142 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Operations that I acquired my initial experience as a 
military lecturer, the occasion being when I addressed the 
Royal Military Society at Dublin in 1905. At the time 
there was rather a mania for lectures on the part of the 
authorities, and those who had to make the local arrange- 
ments were often at a loss to find any one who had some- 
thing useful to say, and was capable of saying it. This was 
perhaps the reason why Lord Grenfell, then commanding 
in Ireland, asked me to give a lecture on the North- West 
Frontier of India, and although I knew a good deal about 
that country I was terrified at the prospect of having to 
stand up and talk about it before an audience of some 
two or three hundred officers. I was even more scared 
when the moment arrived to begin, but by degrees my 
shaking limbs were brought under control and I managed 
to tell the story, previously committed to memory, without 
entirely losing my wits. In fact the performance was a 
mild success, judging from what Lord GrenfeU was good 
enough to tell me, and afterwards I received several requests 
to speak at other miUtary centres. I complied with as 
many as my duties would permit, as they gave me an 
opportimity of mixing with officers employed with troops, 
and incidentally the experience proved helpful when I 
later became Commandant of the Sta:ff CoUege. 

As so often happens in the army, this form of imparting 
instruction was carried to excess, and officers and men 
became rather " fed up " with it both as regards quantity 
and quahty. There is no more determined passive-resister 
in the world than Tommy, when compulsorily present at 
a lecture or a sermon which is not to his liking. He simply 
refuses to hsten, and is invariably seized with an infectious 
cough which rapidly spreads throughout the audience or 
congregation, to the utter discomfiture of the speaker. 

A similar craze for lectures broke out after the Great 
War — the idea, a perfectly good one, being to enlarge the 
scope of the soldier's education and so fit him for work 
when he left the army. Many lecturers, supposed to be 
experts in their particular Une, were sent out for this pur- 
pose to the Rhine when I commanded there in 1919-20, and 
while some of them gave interesting and useful instruction, 



ON LEAVE 143 

others did not, and in the aggregate they were too numerous. 
I had to ask the War Office to hmit the number, and also 
to exercise more discretion in the selection of subjects. I 
explained that, for example, the proposed lectures on 
" Pond life " and '* The anatomy of the rabbit '' would 
scarcely appeal to those men who had already lived in the 
mud of Flanders for about four years, or to those who, 
hating rabbits at all times, had been consistently given them 
as rations on two or three days of the week while serving 
at home. 

I utihsed most of my annual leave between 1902 and 1906 
in traveUing abroad, making journeys to Northern Africa, 
Canada, the United States, and various countries in Europe, 
including France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, 
Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, Spain, Portugal, and the 
Balkan Peninsula. 

On one occasion when visiting the environs of Metz I 
barely escaped being locked up as a spy. The German 
authorities were suspicious of all foreigners, and an order had 
been issued, of which I was ignorant, which forbade the latter 
being in the vicinity of the Metz forts without a special permit 
signed by the garrison commander. I was not at all desirous 
of obtaining information regarding the forts, as they were 
already sufficiently known to me. I was merely re-studying 
the battle of Gravelotte, and, when near St. Privat, a 
detective in plain clothes appeared on the scene and enquired 
in French whether I was a French officer. I gave him rather 
an abrupt reply in English, thinking he was one of the many 
so-called guides who frequent the battlefield, and he then, 
speaking in good EngUsh, told me who he was and demanded 
my passport. As I could not produce it, having left it at 
the hotel at Metz, he took me by the arm and said he must 
detain me in the village police station, pending investiga- 
tion. I was careful to be civil to him, and when I expressed 
regret at having broken the rules, and informed him that 
I was an EngUsh colonel, he immediately apologised and we 
parted on good terms. 

British officers traveUing abroad sometimes make the 
mistake of being too off-hand in their deaUngs with foreign 
officials, with the result that they may be put to consider- 



144 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

able inconvenience and even be kept under arrest, in un- 
pleasant and unsanitary conditions, while a lengthy corre- 
spondence is conducted between the governments concerned 
before they are released. More than one such instance came 
to my knowledge when I was at the War Office. 

After parting company with the detective, my wife, who 
was with me, and I cycled our hardest back to our hotel 
and, suspecting that further enquiries would be instituted, 
packed our boxes and started off for Niederbronn, whence I 
wished to visit the battlefield of Woerth. I was the more 
anxious to get away from Metz because my passport showed 
that I was Assistant Director of Military Operations, and 
had this become known there is httle doubt after what had 
passed that I would have been detained. 

One of the sights at Metz which attracts the attention 
of all visitors is a figure at the main entrance to the cathedral, 
which bears a striking Hkeness of the ex-Kaiser. Some 
years ago the figure of the prophet Daniel, draped in Eastern 
costume, was about to be placed there, and according to 
the local story the order went forth for the prophet to be 
given the ex-Kaiser's features. After the town was occupied 
by the French at the end of 1918 handcuffs were placed on 
the figure, and on them was hung a card inscribed in large 
letters, " Sic transit gloria mundi ! " They were still 
there when I visited Metz in June 1919. 

I made several journeys to the Belgian Ardennes, Namur, 
Liege, and the Meuse valley between these two towns. 
They were of special interest because of the possibility of 
Germany violating Belgian neutrahty in the event of her 
going to war with France, and it had become quite evident, 
from her railway extensions alone, that she meant to enter 
Belgium. Before her intentions became so obvious, opinions 
varied a good deal as to what she would do, as there was 
much to be said both for and against the operation ; but 
on balance it always seemed to me, and so I officially stated, 
that it would be attempted, notwithstanding the elaborate 
Liege and Namur defences which had been constructed at 
great cost in order to close this fine of advance. 

When visiting the Peninsula battlefields I first pro- 
ceeded from Lisbon to the famous lines of Torres Vedras, 



THE PENINSULA BATTLEFIELDS 145 

which proved to be a harder nut than Massena could crack 
when he stumbled up against them in following Wellington 
after the battle of Busaco. The passage of the Douro at 
Oporto, the next place I visited, would in these days be 
regarded as a minor operation, the French casualties being 
estimated at five hundred killed and wounded, while the 
British were only slightly over a hundred. But it was 
nevertheless a fine performance. The river at Oporto is 
some three hundred yards wide, the current is rapid and 
the banks are precipitous and rocky, and to attempt 
to cross such an obstacle in presence of the enemy, and 
without a bridging train, was an extremely perilous and 
daring undertaking. Had Soult and his staff taken reason- 
able precautions the attempt ought not to have succeeded. 

There is a good club at Oporto, established many years 
ago by the EngHsh colony engaged in the port wine trade, 
and as the hotels are of a poor and unsanitary type I was 
glad to accept the privilege of its hospitality. The club 
was used by Soult and his staff before they were so suddenly 
expelled from the town, and their signatures are to be seen 
in the visitors* book. On the same page are the names of 
WelHngton and his staff, who it will be remembered ate 
the dinner that had been prepared for Soult and his officers. 

The plateau of Busaco affords a magnificent view of the 
surrounding country, and on it now stands a large and 
comfortable hotel, originally intended, I believe, as a palace 
for the King of Portugal. Tennis, golf, and other games 
are played on the ground where the battle was fought on 
the 27th of September 1810. The battle ought to have 
taken place on the 25th of the month, before the aUies were 
in position. Ney asked permission to attack on that day, 
but Massena, hke other French generals of his time, under- 
rated Wellington, and after keeping Ney's messenger 
waiting several hours he repHed that all action should be 
deferred until he arrived at the front. He leisurely appeared 
about noon on the following day, and then fixed the battle 
for the 27th of September. By that time the allies had 
completed their arrangements for defence, and after in- 
flicting some 4500 casualties on the French and losing 
about 1500 men themselves they were able to withdraw 

L 



146 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

unmolested, " according to plan " as we would say in these 
days, to the Unes of Torres Vedras. 

For the journey to Canada and the United States I could 
not spare more than about two months, and therefore it 
was not possible to see much of these two wonderful countries. 
The voyage from Liverpool was made under most comfort- 
able conditions, thanks to the kindness of the officials of 
the Allan Line. 

From Quebec the steamer proceeded to Montreal, where 
I spent a few days, and then went on to Ottawa. From 
there I continued the journey to Sault Ste Marie, which 
was the farthest point west I had time to go. The amount 
of shipping which passes through the Sault Ste Marie, or 
" Soo," canals can be judged from the fact that although 
the passage is closed for some months in winter, the annual 
amount of tonnage fifteen years ago was more than twice 
that which passed through the Suez Canal. Since then the 
amount has become much greater. Wheat, timber, iron ore, 
and other minerals are the principal cargoes. From the Soo 
I descended Lake Huron to Detroit, and thence went to 
Toronto, the Niagara frontier, and Buffalo. 

Although I saw but Httle of Canada, what I did see 
came to me as a great surprise. The large towns, with 
their fine thoroughfares and magnificent buildings, have 
an air of business and grandeur of which most people in 
England have httle or no conception, and the rate and 
scale at which the Dominion has been developed must be 
seen to be correctly appreciated. I venture to say that a 
personal visit to our Overseas Dominions is an essential 
part of the education of all high officials at home whose 
duties are in any way connected with them, for without 
some such knowledge gained on the spot their work will 
probably be not only valueless but may be exceedingly 
mischievous. 

From Buffalo I went to the Adirondacks, an in- 
teresting country with a delightful summer climate, and 
there, at Lake Placid, I struck my first " dry " town in the 
States. For some reason or other no one seemed to pay 
much attention to the embargo, and at the hotel where I 
stayed there was no difficulty in obtaining such wines as 



A VISIT TO AMERICA 147 

I required. The following day, after a stage-coach drive 
of about forty miles, I arrived at another town where the 
sale of alcohol was prohibited, and there my experience 
was different. Remembering my good fortune of the day 
before, I asked the waitress at dinner to bring me a whisky 
and soda, and she reminded me that it was a " dry " town. 
Ignoring her answer I rather brusquely repeated the request, 
to which she repHed that I could have nothing to drink 
there, and asked who I was " trying to get at." Having 
acquired a particularly bad thirst during the hot and dusty 
drive I interviewed the manager, but for a long time he, 
too, was obdurate. Finally he relented, took me to his 
wife's bedroom, and told me to wait there and see what 
happened. Shortly afterwards a waiter brought in a bottle 
of whisky, soda water, and a box of cigars, and told me 
that, by the orders of the " boss," I was to take what 1 
wanted, be quick about it, and then clear out. I carried 
out all his instructions. 

Every one has at different times discovered how small 
a place the world is, and a rather curious instance of this 
occurred during my drive through the Adirondacks. A 
fellow-passenger, an American, told me in the course of 
conversation that a few months before he had given to 
the British Consul at Batum an account of what he had seen 
of the Russian troops in Central Asia, through which he 
had recently travelled. I remembered having received this 
information at the War Office, for at the time we were in 
doubt regarding certain matters which the report very 
opportunely cleared up. I did not tell this to my companion 
as it was not desirable he should know where I was employed, 
but it struck me as being a remarkable coincidence that 
while travelling by stage-coach in America I should meet 
the unknown author of the information received from 
Central Asia. 

The visit to the Balkans in the autumn of 1906 was 
perhaps the most instructive and interesting of all my 
journeys, for I had already made a close study of the 
literature regarding this complicated part of the world and 
required some local knowledge in order to complete it. The 
visit was rendered the more pleasant and useful by the 



148 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

assistance and hospitality I received from our official 
representatives at each place where I stayed — with one 
exception. Journeying from Calais I first went to Berlin 
and then to Vienna, staying a few days at each place, and 
afterwards continued the journey to Bucharest, or the 
** Paris of the East/' Here I was the guest of the British 
Minister, Sir Conyngham Greene, who kindly arranged with 
the authorities for me to see some Rumanian troops, barracks, 
hospitals, and other mihtary estabhshments. 

From Bucharest I crossed the Danube at Rutschuk, and 
then proceeded via Plevna to Sofia, where different branches 
of the Bulgarian army were paraded for inspection. I 
was much impressed with the physique of the men and their 
smartness at driU, and came to the conclusion that the 
mihtary education of both officers and men was of a higher 
standard than most people imagined. Less than forty 
years before the Bulgars were still in slavery to Turkey, 
I and the progress the country had since made was pheno- 
menal. Sofia, from being a collection of mud-hovels, had 
become a modern town with many fine and substantial 
buildings, education had advanced rapidly, pubUc works 
had been instituted on a large scale, and the country in 
general had become one of the most efficient of all the 
Balkan States. 

From Sofia I went via Adrianople to Constantinople, 
which from being amongst the most progressive, had be- 
come, under Turkish rule, the dirtiest and most retrograde 
capital in Europe. At the time of my visit the streets 
were still scavenged by tens of thousands of repulsive- 
looking dogs, who Uved together in batches of a dozen or 
so, each batch on its own pitch, and if a strange dog ven- 
tured to intrude he was immediately attacked by the 
rightful owners. These unfortunate animals were subse- 
quently deported wholesale to an island in the Sea of 
Marmora, and in true Turkish fashion were there left to 
die of hunger and thirst. The streets of Constantinople 
were mostly unpaved and badly hghted, the installation of 
electric light was forbidden except — for a consideration — 
in a few favoured cases, and the same remark appUes to 
telephones, of which there were then but few. Indeed 



CONSTANTINOPLE 149 

everything possible seemed to be done to prevent the intro- 
duction of modern improvements, the object apparently 
being to keep Europeans out of the town. 

I attended, as most tourists do, the ceremony of the 
Salamlik, and there noticed that I was being closely followed 
by a detective — as all foreigners were on these occasions. 
The Sultan was insane on the subject of espionage. He 
insisted upon being kept fully informed of the movements 
of strangers, and all classes, in order to curry favour with 
him, played up to his idiosyncrasy. The result was that 
over and above an army of professional spies there was a 
host of unpaid amateurs who were constantly on the look- 
out for some plot, real or imaginary, which they could 
report. The only way in which one could move about, or 
indeed do anything with reasonable convenience, was by 
a Hberal employment of bribes. At this period, too, all 
power, civil and mihtary, was centred in the hands of the 
Sultan, and he was chief spiritual ruler as well. He was 
therefore emperor and pope rolled into one. 

I noticed that the German Embassy presented a parti- 
cularly clean and prosperous appearance. The employees 
were smartly dressed, the grounds and buildings were well 
kept, and in general it was by far the most prosperous- 
looking of all the embassies, not excluding our own. 
Germany was then forging ahead in Turkey, and was 
careful to impress the Eastern mind with her power and 
prosperity, while we, who had once been predominant, 
were fast falling behind and, like Gallio, cared for none of 
these things. 

After making a trip to the Black Sea through the Bos- 
phorus, which somewhat resembles a winding river of 
three-quarters of a mile or less in width, I was glad to get 
away from Constantinople and its abominable smells, hideous 
noises, dirty streets, and of&cial obstructions. Salonika by 
rail, via Dede Agach, was my next halting-place, and from 
there I made several journeys into that ethnological museum 
known as Macedonia. The mountainous nature of the 
interior has always made the country difficult to conquer, 
and the various invaders were never able to absorb the 
people whom they found in it ; the large towns and sea- 



150 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

ports attracted men of all races for purposes of business ; 
and in these and other ways it came about that for centuries 
the Country was a sort of dumping-ground for many different 
nations. Again, in addition to the Turks, there were four 
Christian sects in the country, Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs, 
and Rumanians, each with its own special propaganda 
and aiming at making as many converts as possible. No 
corner of the world presented such a conflict of ambitions 
and interests, and it is not to be wondered at that the 
Macedonian question seemed for so long to be insoluble. 

From Salonika I went north through Uskub to Nish, 
and thence to Belgrade and Buda-Pesth, spending a few 
days at each place before returning to England. A good 
deal has happened in the Balkans since 1906, and it is not 
unhkely that much more will happen before a definite 
settlement is made of that " Eastern question " which has 
been in existence ever since Turkish rule was estabhshed in 
Europe some 470 years ago. 

According to the regulations of the time, the tenure of 
my appointment as head of the Foreign Section should 
have expired in October 1905, but for certain reasons it 
was extended to the end of January 1907. My rapid 
promotion to the substantive rank of Colonel in November 
1903, though fortimate in some respects, had the disadvan- 
tage of involving my removal from the regimental Hst, and 
therefore when I left the War Office I was placed on " half- 
pay." This term might be supposed to have some con- 
nection with full-pay, but in fact it has none at all. For 
example, the usual full-pay of a major-general was then 
£1500 a year, whereas the emoluments of an officer of that 
rank while on half-pay were only £500 a year. A similar 
anomaly, not to say hardship, obtained in the case of officers 
of other ranks. Another disadvantage of being on the half- 
pay list was that as there was no certainty whether or when 
fresh employment would be given, no settled plans for the 
future could be made. In my case the prospect was brighter, 
as I was authoritatively informed before leaving the War 
Office that I would shortly be appointed Chief Staff Officer 
in one of the home commands. This was the kind of 
appointment I most desired to have, and I accordingly 



HALF-PAY 151 

entered upon my period of enforced idleness with compara- 
tively little anxiety. 

This system of half -pay, which renders an officer useless 
to his profession and country when in the prime of life, 
and at a time when his experience and accelerated promotion 
would seem to demand that his services should be fully 
utilised, is not one which strikes the ordinary man as being 
in the best interest of the State. I have always thought 
that there should be no insuperable difficulty in devising 
a more profitable system, given a less bureaucratic Treasury 
and more logical methods in the promotion of officers whose 
retention in the army is considered to be desirable. 



CHAPTER X 

BRIGADIER-GENERAL, GENERAL STAFF, ALDERSHOT 

Translate German regulations regarding heavy artillery — Assistant 
Quartermaster-General, Aldershot, 1907 — Become Chief of General 
Staff there six months later — Smith-Dorrien — Ofi&cers on the Aider- 
shot Staff — Comparison of soldier's Ufe in 1907 with that in 1877 — 
Similar comparison in regard to training — Smith-Dorrien's methods 
— Weakness of units — Innovations in organisation and improve- 
ments in training — System of obtaining ground for manoeuvres — 
False teaching of mancEuvres — Smith-Dorrien's practical views — 
Staff tours — ^Visits of King Edward — ^Visits of King George and 
Queen Mary — Aeroplanes — Balloons — ^The Caterpillar — Ordered to 
take up post of Commandant, Staff College. 

In order to fill up the time and improve my knowledge of 
German I imdertook while on half-pay to translate for the 
War Office certain German and Austrian military publica- 
tions, and with the assistance of my wife — a good German 
linguist — the results were, I hope, fairly good, notwithstand- 
ing the many technical terms to be unravelled. Amongst 
these pubhcations were the German official " Regulations 
for the employment of heavy artillery in the field,'* from 
which it was manifest that heavy artillery would play a 
prominent part in Germany's next war in Europe. This 
was not the only information of the kind which came to 
our notice, but we made no effort worth mentioning to 
provide ourselves with similar artillery, or with the means 
for producing either it or its ammunition when required, 
and there was the same indifference with regard to machine- 
guns. Years before 19 14 Germany was known to be paying 
special attention to machine-gun organisation, and to have 
raised a considerable number of well-trained machine-gun 
units, whereas we began the war with no such units, and 
our battalions had but two machine-guns each. 

As the date of my promised re-emplo5mient approached, 

152 



ALDERSHOT AGAIN 153 

I was disappointed one day to receive a letter from the War 
Of&ce telling me that I would not be given the post which 
I had been led to beUeve a few weeks before would fall to 
me. Fortunately Sir Wilham Nicholson, who was then 
Quartermaster-General, offered me the post of Assistant 
Quartermaster-General at Aldershot, and advised me not to 
refuse it as something better might come along shortly. I 
took his advice, although the post was no better than the 
one I had already held for more than five years, while from 
a fincLncial standpoint it was inferior to it. On the other 
hand, it afforded a means of learning the duties of a branch 
of the staff in which I had hitherto not been employed, and 
this experience later proved very useful, especially when I 
was Quartermaster-General of the army sent to France in 
1914. I took up my new duties in May 1907. 

There were then about thirty thousand troops in the 
Aldershot command, the principal formations being the ist 
and 2nd Divisions under Major-Generals Grierson and 
Stephenson respectively, and the ist Cavalry Brigade. Sir 
John French was in chief command, Sir Archibald Murray 
was his Chief of the General Staff, and the Major-General 
in charge of Administration, my immediate chief, was at 
first Major-General Heath and later Major-General (n9w 
Sir) H. Lawson, both being helpful and considerate masters. 

In December 1907 Sir John French was succeeded by 
Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, and at the same time Murray 
went to the War Of&ce as Director of Mifitary Training. 
Sir WiUiam Nicholson, who had recently become Chief of 
the Imperial General Staff, gave me the vacancy left by 
Miuray — a far better post than the one I had expected to 
receive earlier in the year, and in fact it was the best of its 
kind. Once more, therefore, fortime had favoured me, and 
the advancement was the more gratifying because it occurred 
at Aldershot where, on a miserable November night thirty 
years before, I had entered the cavalry barracks as a recruit 
— a lonely and, for all practical purposes, a seemingly 
friendless lad. I would often, when passing in that direc- 
tion as Chief of the General Staff, gaze at the old barrack- 
room where I first Hved, and at its neighbour the guard- 
room of evil memory, and wonder how it had come about 



154 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

that I was now a General Ofl&cer and the right-hand man 
of the Commander-in-Chief. 

Murray left everything connected with General Staff 
work in good order, and it was easy to take over from him 
the threads of peace training. My two assistants on the 
General Staff were Major Kerr of the Gordon Highlanders 
and Captain Nicholl of the Bedfordshire Regiment, both 
hard-working and capable officers. " Freddie " Kerr was a 
bom soldier, possessed of sound military instinct, and popular 
with all who knew him. The army suffered a great loss 
when he was killed near Ypres in 19 14. Colonel " Freddie " 
Wing, the staff officer for artillery duties, was a splendid 
horseman, keen and active, and in character as fine a type 
of man as could be met. He was killed at the battle of 
Loos in October 1915 when in command of a division. 
Brigadier-General " Peter " Bust on was the Chief Engineer, 
and Major McMahon was in charge of the musketry. Colonel 
Kerr Montgomery and Colonel Alec Godley were respectively 
the senior General Staff Officers of the ist and 2nd Divisions. 
Godley was later employed with the New Zealand Forces, 
being succeeded by Colonel De Lisle, and both of them 
commanded army corps during the Great War. The ad- 
ministrative services came under the charge of Major- 
General Robb when Lawson succeeded Stephenson in the 
command of the 2nd Division, while Kerr was succeeded 
on the General Staff by Lieut. -Col. (now Major-Gen, Sir) 
W. Campbell. 

On the personal staff of the Commander-in-Chief were 
Major Clive Wigram, assistant mihtary secretary, and now 
assistant personal secretary to His Majesty, and Captain 
Way, the aide-de-camp. Captain Arthur Wood, a son of 
Sir Evel5m, and Lieutenant Boscawen, a son of Lord 
Falmouth, were also aides-de-camp at different times. 
Boscawen, a charming boy and a most promising ofi&cer, 
won the D.S.O. and rose to the rank of Major in the Great 
War, meeting his death in the summer of 1918. This com- 
pletes the hst of staff officers with whom I was most fre- 
quently brought into contact. I always thought we were 
a happy family, and I hope the others were of the same 
opinion. 



A SOLDIER'S LIFE 155 

Having had the opportunity of seeing both sides of life 
in the army during the thirty years that had elapsed since 
I first went to Aldershot in 1877, it may be of interest to 
the reader if I compare some of the conditions under which 
a soldier then lived and worked with those which prevailed 
when I joLaed the Aldershot staff in 1907. 

In my early days the soldier when off parade had the 
choice of three places in which to pass his time — the barrack- 
room, the Hbrary (a fusty, ill-kept place without a book or 
a newspaper worth reading), and the canteen, where besides 
bread and cheese little could be bought except beer. Inside 
the barracks these were the only faciUties afforded for his 
recreation and self-improvement ; outside the barracks, in 
Aldershot, the " Soldier's Home," maintained by kind- 
hearted benefactors, was almost his only alternative to 
women and beer-shops, both of the lowest type ; and 
beyond an occasional cricket match he was not encouraged 
to play any outdoor game. In not a few regiments 
his officers saw little or nothing of him except when 
on parade or at stables ; they showed no interest in his 
personal concerns, and sometimes did not even know 
his name, although he might have been imder their 
command for weeks. It was realised by some inspecting 
officers that this state of affairs was not what it should be, 
from the professional standpoint alone, and I have heard 
the most absurd replies given when troop officers have been 
asked to tell them a man's name, or what length of service 
he had. The great thing was to give an answer of some sort 
and give it quickly, whether it might be the right one or not. 

By 1907 all this had been changed. Officers were now 
expected to know all about their men, to look after their 
minds as well as their bodies, and generally to identify 
themselves in peace with those upon whom they would 
have to depend in war. To this new demand they readily 
responded — as British officers always will once they know 
what is required of them — and much keenness and rivalry 
were displayed by regiments in making physical exercises 
more interesting, and in organising cross-country races and 
other useful forms of sport such as football, hockey, and 
boxing. By Smith-Dorrien's directions a number of first- 



156 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

class recreation grounds were later provided sufficient to 
meet all requirements. 

A vast improvement was also noticeable in regard to the 
men's food, though it varied a good deal in different units. 
Formerly the rations had not only been inadequate and, for 
want of proper supervision, often of inferior quality, but 
there had been much waste and some corruption in their 
disposal, while the cooks were selected without reference to 
their cuUnary knowledge and were sometimes notoriously 
the dirtiest men in the regiment. Better rations were now 
supplied, economical use was made of them, and the 
cooks were taught their trade and made to understand 
that cleanUness is the first requisite of a good cook-house. 

Again, in the old days the men dined in the same room 
where they lived and slept, and ate their meals off the same 
table on which they pipeclayed their accoutrements, the 
table itself being rarely cleaned more than once a day, and 
then perhaps only with the broom used for sweeping the 
floor. These objectionable customs had largely disappeared. 
Separate dining-rooms, wherever possible, were now allotted, 
the supply of crockery was improved, tablecloths were 
provided, and the meals were served up in a more palatable 
and decent form. With the estabhshment of what are 
called regimental institutes the soldier also had at his 
disposal various rooms — corporals' room, concert-room, 
writing-room, coffee-room, all reasonably furnished — where 
he could spend a comfortable hour when off duty, and 
with no temptation to get drunk. 

The methods of giving instruction in riding, foot- drill, 
musketry, and other elementary forms of training had 
been improved out of all recognition since 1877, and the 
whole system of training in its more advanced stages had 
been changed for the better. Lord Wolseley, Sir Evelyn 
Wood, and other military reformers had insisted on going 
far beyond the antiquated instructions contained in the 
" drill books " of the period, and before the South African 
war the preparation of training manuals was taken in hand. 
That campaign delayed their completion, but on its termina- 
tion the excellent book known as " Combined Training " was 
issued. It was followed, when the General Staff was formed 



GENERAL SMITH-DORRIEN 157 

in 1904, by the publication of " Field Service Regulations" 
and "Training Manuals*' for each arm. These covered 
the entire field of individual and tactical training, and it is 
universally admitted that the principles they enunciated 
well stood the test to which they were put in the Great War. 

To sum up, the soldier was no longer treated, as he used 
to be, as a being without intelHgence and without the 
remotest chance of ever developing any, down whose throat 
it was the business of the non-commissioned officer to force 
as much parrot-like drill as possible but never to attempt 
to draw anjrthing out. " Why did you do that ? " the 
unfortunate man would be asked when accused of making 
a slip, and when he explained that he had done it because 
he thought it was the proper thing to do in the circum- 
stances, the reply would be : *' You have no right to think, 
do as you are told, and don't think again." This stupid 
attitude was going out of fashion. A man was taught to 
use his wits and act with initiative and responsibility, 
individual instruction was superseding squad drill, and a 
clear distinction was drawn between drill pure and simple 
and field training. 

It must not be thought that perfection had been reached 
in any of these matters. Much remained to be done, and 
Smith-Dorrien was the man to do it. Full of energy him- 
self, he expected every one in his command to be equally 
zealous and to take his profession seriously. He held 
strongly that the utmost should be done for the welfare of 
the men and their families, and that they should be trusted 
not to abuse the increased privileges granted to them. In 
carrying out these objects he was well supported by Grierson, 
Stephenson, Lawson, and his other immediate subordinates, 
and the aim of all was to try and bring out what was best 
in the men and not everlastingly be thinking of the worst. 

We had learned many useful lessons in the South African 
war, both as to what to do and what not to do, more 
especially as to the use of ground, and we also had some 
surprises in the Russo-Japanese war. But there was still 
much difference of opinion as to the extent to which these 
lessons ought to modify previously - accepted methods. 
British officers, like other mortals, are not infallible, and their 






158 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

ideas are apt either to move too slowly and in strictly 
defined grooves, or to fly off to the opposite extreme. It 
was for the senior commanders and General Staff to steer a 
correct course between excessive regard for regularity and 
rule on the one hand, and the desire to throw all previous 
experience to the winds on the other — to see, in short, that 
methods of training kept pace with changing conditions but 
did not madly overrun them. Having shared in much 
fighting in past wars Smith-Dorrien was well qualified to 
judge of the probable characteristics of future wars, and 
the importance he attached, when commanding at Alder- 
shot, to the right use of ground, the effect of rifle and 
machine-gun fire, and the necessity for carefully training 
section and other subordinate leaders proved, in the light of 
the Great War, that his appreciation was singularly accurate. 
Modem war," ran one of his training instructions, 
demands that individual intelligence should be on a high 
plane. Battlefields now cover such extensive areas that 
control by officers is very difficult, consequently non-com- 
missioned officers and even private soldiers very often find 
themselves left to their own resources : and it is only by 
being accustomed in peace training to use their common 
sense and inteUigence that they are hkely to be equal to 
their duties in war." 

Another instruction laid down that " troops should be 
continually practised in improvising existing cover in every 
possible piece of ground gained which it is important to 
hold. Officers and non-commissioned officers should be 
trained to sight and trace trenches after dark as well as 
by day. Artillery, too, is very dependent on the hours of 
darkness in getting into position, and although it may as a 
rule be possible to select positions during the day, it must 
frequently happen that the actual digging of gun-pits and 
moving guns into them must take place at night." 

Smith-Dorrien was particularly insistent during field 
training that individual officers and men should not 
unnecessarily expose themselves to view or fire, and would 
sometimes emphasise this in very downright terms. The 
admonition was not without good reason, and it was not 
forgotten by those to whom it was addressed. 



TRAINING 159 

Work was fairly strenuous all the year round, the normal 
stages of field training being squadron, battery, and company 
in March and April ; regimental and battalion in May and 
June ; brigade, divisional, and command from July to the 
middle of September ; individual training throughout the 
winter. 

As at all other stations, training suffered from the two 
defects inherent to our army system — weakness of the 
battalions and inequality in the proficiency of the men 
under instruction, whose army service varied between one 
day and about twenty years. This complication was due 
to recruits dribbUng in at all periods of the year — the result 
of voluntary enhstment as compared with universal service, 
which enables the whole of the recruits for one year to be 
received on the same day, and to be put through a systematic 
and progressive course of training. 

These disadvantages were specially felt in regard to 
the training of the officers, for as battalions always con- 
tained a large percentage of recruits who had not completed 
their drill in barracks, and who therefore were not available 
for training in the field, the officers had no opportunity 
of commanding their units at full strength, and in some ways 
this destroyed the whole value of the training. To get 
over the difficulty two units would be put into one, but 
this brought in men who were strangers to the commander, 
and who regarded the work as a bore and of no benefit 
to themselves. Another expedient was to give the officers 
theoretical schemes to work out, the troops being imaginary ; 
but this again was a poor substitute for the real thing, for 
only few instructors are capable of making it useful to the 
instructed, and also it was unpopular. 

Training was, in fact, largely a case of trying to 
make bricks without straw, and there was much truth 
in what a distinguished General once said to me : 
" Never forget, Robertson, that we have two armies — the 
War Office army and the Aldershot army. The first is 
always up to strength, and is organised, reorganised, and 
disorganised almost daily. The second is never up to 
strength, knows nothing whatever about the first, and 
remains unaffected by any of these organising activities. 



i6o FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

It just cleans its rifle and falls in on parade." The army 
of no other European country laboured under the same 
disadvantages as we did, and it is to their undying credit 
that our officers stuck to their work in such discouraging 
circumstances, and in the Great War proved themselves to 
be such fine commanders. 

Of the other training problems which engaged attention 
at Aldershot it may be added that the cavalry were issued 
with a new-pattern sword, the old custom of cutting and 
hacking at one's opponent giving place to the more lightning- 
Uke thrust. Definite efforts were made for the first time to 
provide the troops with travelling-kitchens (i.e. vehicles in 
which the food can be cooked whilst on the move and so 
be ready whenever wanted) ; and mechanical transport was 
worked out on a practical basis, thus solving some of the 
difiiculties attaching to the supply of food and ammunition 
in the field. In the summer of 1909 the ist Division was 
mobiHsed as an experiment, the necessary additional men, 
horses, vehicles, etc., being taken from other units at 
Aldershot and elsewhere. This was the first time any one 
had ever seen a British division at war strength, and it was 
the last till August 19 14. The experience gained was valu- 
able, and upon it were based many of the decisions for the 
movement and handling of large formations which were 
successfully practised in the Great War. 

One of the most important innovations of all was the 
organisation of " communication companies." It can be 
understood that in the employment of large forces spread 
over wide areas a multitude of messages, orders, and 
instructions regarding fighting, feeding, moving, and many 
other matters have to be conveyed between commanders, 
staff, and troops, and that imless they are conveyed 
accurately and promptly serious consequences may ensue. 
Heretofore the arrangements for this service had been of 
the most sketchy and unsatisfactory kind. For use amongst 
themselves and with their brigade headquarters, the 
regiments, battalions, and batteries had each had their quota 
of '* signallers," equipped with flags, lamps, heliographs, 
and other appliances for visual signalling, as well as a 
varying number of mounted orderlies and cyclists ; between 



COMMUNICATION COMPANIES i6i 

brigades and divisions were telegraph companies working 
with cables conveyed on waggons, these units belonging to 
divisions ; and behind them were similar telegraph com- 
panies working with cable-waggons and the ordinary land 
lines of telegraph, these belonging to other formations or 
directly mider army headquarters. This system was both 
imreliable and uneconomical, and was replaced first by 
" communication companies " and then by a " signal ser- 
vice" embracing all the different elements. A number of 
despatch riders and other necessary personnel and material 
were added to them, the whole being placed under one 
general control and without unduly interfering with details. 
The Russo-Japanese war had exemplified the importance 
of good means of communication, and before I went to 
Aldershot a temporary organisation for the purpose had 
been started. When Murray became Director of Military 
Training he placed it, with the approval of the Secretary 
of State for War, on a permanent basis, and its development 
rapidly followed. I shall show in a later chapter how 
exceedingly well it answered in the Great War. 

The foregoing account of training must not be understood 
to imply that Aldershot alone was identified with laying the 
foundations of the original " Expeditionary Force." That 
was not the case. I have already referred to the training 
manuals pubhshed by the General Staff at the War Office, 
and upon these the training in general was based. We 
frequently received other forms of assistance from the 
Training Directorate and the individual officers serving in 
it. The object of both staffs was to work closely and 
helpfully together, and this I think was achieved. If it was 
not it was not the fault of the War Office staff. 

Moreover, the Southern, Irish, and other commands 
played their part in training-duties, although it was on a 
much smaller scale, Aldershot being the largest mihtary 
station in the United Kingdom, and the only one where a 
reasonable number of troops and a fair amount of suitable 
training-ground were available throughout the year. It 
also contained many military establishments not to be 
found elsewhere, such as the signalling school, army 
gymnastic school, school of cookery, aeroplane and balloon 

M 



i62 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

factories and schools, and a large mechanical transport 
depot. 

As the Aldershot area was much too restricted in 
size, as well as too familiar, for the advanced training 
of the higher formations, and as we had no legal powers 
by which ground elsewhere could be acquired, reliance 
had to be placed on the good-will of landowners and 
tenants. As a rule these met us in a most generous 
spirit, though there were some notable and tiresome 
exceptions. I remember one large landowner who declined 
to allow us the use of some " common " land which came 
under his control as lord of the manor, although he was a 
prominent member of the National Service League ! Another 
wealthy proprietor once refused, in spite of many entreaties, 
to grant the use of quite a small, though to us a very 
important, area which happened to be in the centre of a 
tract of country already conceded to us by other owners, 
and without which the contemplated operations would to 
a great extent become unreal. 

A similar difficulty threatened on another occasion, but 
was overcome by the patriotism and good sense of the owner. 
Smith-Dorrien had decided that the operations should include 
the crossing of the Thames by a division during darkness, and 
there was only one locality available where an improvised 
bridge could be constructed and the passage made so as to 
fit suitably into the project as a whole. The ground on one 
side of the river had been obtained, but the owner of the 
fields on the opposite bank at first met our request with a 
blank refusal, and the position seemed hopeless. He had 
good reason for refusing, for he had recently received in 
connection with another matter very shabby and exasperat- 
ing treatment at the hands of the superior military 
authorities. After a lengthy correspondence I succeeded 
in gaining a personal interview with him, when he proved 
to be quite amenable, and gave his full consent for us to 
do as we wished. 

The system of obtaining ground for manoeuvres only 
from those who were sufficiently patriotic to lend it was 
fundamentally bad and pleased nobody. Separate arrange- 
ments had to be made with all the owners, tenants, and 



MANCEUVRES 163 

sub - tenants concerned, and these would amount to 
some hundreds in number, and when, after months of 
correspondence and many personal interviews, consent had 
at last been obtained, it was always liable to be withdrawn 
or curtailed at the last moment. Further, some owners and 
tenants objected to being asked to do that which others 
were known to have refused to do, and they frequently told 
me that the only satisfactory system was for the Govern- 
ment to exercise legal powers, take what they wanted from 
all and sundry alike, and not trade upon the patriotism of 
those who did not Uke to refuse. It was really part and 
parcel of the old question of voluntary versus national 
service. In later years legal powers were taken, to the 
satisfaction of everybody worth counting. 

The benefit troops derive from manoeuvres depends 
almost entirely upon the way in which they are conducted. 
They are by no means the same thing as war, and cannot 
be made so because of the absence of bullets. Up to a 
point they can be rendered exceedingly valuable, but un- 
less properly conducted they may be not only useless but 
highly mischievous because of the false teaching they give. 
At the period of which I write they were often accompanied 
by a considerable element of " eye-wash," and measures 
were not always taken to ensure that opposing com- 
manders would be compelled to come to their decisions 
in an atmosphere resembling as far as possible the fog of 
war which prevails on the battlefield. For example, it was 
not uncommon for the supervising General to command 
one of the opposing sides himself, and, after issuing the 
orders to his own troops, cross over to the enemy's position 
and from there observe, and afterwards criticise, the action 
of both forces. Having himself set the problem, and 
knowing all that was happening on both sides during its 
solution, he obviously could not derive much instruction 
from it, or make an impartial criticism of the action of his 
opponent. 

It was, in short, the custom for manoeuvres to take the 
form of a series of " field-days " rather than of continuous 
operations in face of an enemy, and between the movements 
of each day there would be a close time when neither side 



i64 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

need anticipate danger from the other. Conducted in this 
manner the so-called manoeuvres did not give a true picture 
of what occurs in war, or anything like it, and might more 
appropriately have been called battle-drill ; and as we were 
expected by our seniors to believe that they were a close 
approximation to the real thing, whereas they were nothing 
of the kind, they belonged to that class which, as I have 
explained, is more dangerous than useful. Thorough 
elementary instruction must of course be given before 
troops proceed to training of an advanced nature, and 
mihtary commanders, like other people, must learn to walk 
before they attempt to run, but they wiU never become 
expert runners if their training is always restricted to 
walking. 

Once when acting as director of some manoeuvres, a 
year or two after leaving Aldershot, I was asked by a 
senior officer of the umpire staff at what time the troops 
might have their dinners. It was then about 2 p.m. on a 
Thursday. I repHed that they could have them when- 
ever they chose. " But,*' said he, " won't you sound 
' stand-fast ' or something, so that both sides can dine at 
the same time and without the risk of being interfered 
with by each other ? " He gave me up as a hopeless 
lunatic, I think, when I answered : " ' Stand-fast ' will be 
sounded on Saturday afternoon when "the operations are 
due to finish. Meanwhile everybody, umpires included, 
should make their own arrangements for eating, as on 
active service." 

The chief reason why manoeuvres were not more prac- 
tical was that those who supervised them dare not give 
the opposing commanders a sufficiently free hand for fear 
the operations might get out of control. Granted the 
necessary imagination, there need have been no difficulty 
in preparing such schemes as would permit commanders to 
go all-out in their own way, and stiU compel them to keep 
within the limits imposed by conditions attaching to peace- 
training — such as time, money, and ground. 

Smith-Dorrien determined that his manoeuvres should, 
as far as possible, be carried out as in war ; and as an example 
of this I may mention an incident which occurred in the 



STAFF TOURS 165 

first manoeuvres he held in September 1908, on the Downs 
near Winchester. At the end of the first day's operations 
the cavahy brigade of one side went comfortably into 
bivouac, taking little or no precautions for security during 
the night, and being unaware that within a mile or two 
was the bivouac of one of the enemy's infantry brigades. 
Later on a battahon of this brigade discovered the presence 
of the cavalry, and at dawn next morning surrounded and 
took the whole of them prisoners. An umpire came to 
headquarters to ask for a decision as to what should be 
done, and was promptly told by the Commander-in-Chief 
that the cavalry must be placed out of action until the 
operations terminated. The lesson thus driven home was 
not likely to be forgotten, and outweighed the disadvantage 
of depriving the captured brigade of an additional day's 
training. 

*' Staff tours," which were much in favour with the War 
Office authorities when I was at Aldershot, are also fraught 
with danger unless properly managed. A " staff tour," 
I may explain for the benefit of the layman, is a form 
of training intended to give senior commanders and 
their staffs theoretical instruction in working out on 
the ground problems of strategy, tactics, marches, and 
the administration of an army in the field. No troops 
are employed, but* the directing staff decide, according to 
the orders given and other measures taken by the officers 
under instruction, what the imaginary troops would 
accompHsh. 

One tour held whilst I was at Aldershot had rather a 
significant ending. Instructions had been issued shortly 
before by the War Office defining the action required 
in the event of invasion, and Smith-Dorrien decided to 
adopt them as the basis of his staff tour scheme, thinking 
that the officers would thereby derive useful practice in an 
operation which presumably they might one day be 
called upon to carry out in reahty. During the tour 
certain defects were exposed which seemed to merit the 
attention of the authorities, and these were duly brought 
to notice when, according to custom, the proceedings were 
forwarded to the War Office. Smith-Dorrien received little 



i66 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

thanks for his pains, and was told that his scheme had 
been based on conditions which were not likely to arise ; 
that if exercises of this particular kind became known 
diplomatic complications might ensue ; and that for the 
future they should be left alone. Whether invasion was 
a possible contingency or not was a matter upon which 
opinions had for long been divided, but as instructions for 
meeting it had been authoritatively issued, Smith-Dorrien 
was doing no more than his duty in giving his officers an 
opportunity of studying it. 

King Edward paid his usual annual visit to Aldershot in 
May 1907, and also in 1908 and 1909. His custom was to 
arrive at 11.30 a.m. and leave about 4 o'clock the same day. 
As he did not ride, and as it was necessary that he should 
see as many of the troops as possible, the " scheme " had to 
be so arranged as to bring the troops near to places where 
his motor could be taken, and whence he could observe the 
operations. It was not an easy matter to achieve this 
and at the same time ensure that the various movements 
were properly connected and did not develop into unreal 
situations. One year the operations terminated with an 
infantry assault on the enemy's position, on the crest of 
which His Majesty had just arrived. Two battalions of 
the Guards made the assault at this point, and shortly 
afterwards, the " cease fire " having sounded, Grierson, the 
commander of the attacking side, arrived breathless near 
where the King stood. " Well, General," asked the King, 
" did you succeed in defeating the enemy ? " " Sir," said 
Grierson, with his usual diplomacy, " I threw into the 
assault all the troops at my disposal, including Your 
Majesty's Guards, and if they could not take the position 
no troops in Europe could ! " " Very good, very good," 
answered the King, with a broad smile on his face. 

The last time King Edward saw the Aldershot troops at 
work was in 1909 at Emperor's Hill on the Chobham Ridges. 
In May the following year preparations were well advanced 
for another visit, but his death occurred a few days before 
the date on which he was due to arrive. 

King George visited Aldershot several times when Prince 
of Wales, and has since regularly paid visits lasting for a 













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KING GEORGE 167 

week or ten days. In his practical way His Majesty made 
it quite clear to everybody that he wished to see the troops 
at their ordinary everyday work, and would have no change 
made in the normal training programme. He abhorred 
ever3d:hing of the nature of a " set-piece/* was quick to 
detect the intention to foist one upon him as the genuine 
article, and would roundly condemn any attempt to do, or 
to allow to be done, anything that would be impracticable 
in war. His visits were the more valuable to us because on 
return to London he would be instrumental in compelUng 
the War Office to settle tiresome questions regarding which 
we had perhaps carried on a fruitless correspondence for 
months past. 

With the same object in view His Majesty usually asked 
the Chief of the Imperial General Staff to be present during 
at least a part of his visit. Once when Sir WiUiam Nicholson 
was attending in this capacity the King led us a long morning 
ride in the hot sun, and as Nicholson neither Hked nor was 
accustomed to horse-exercise he returned to the Royal 
Pavihon feehng rather stiff and sore, both in mind and body. 
During luncheon he had to submit to a certain amount of 
chaff on the subject, the King humorously condohng with 
him on the sufferings of the morning. Nicholson, who was 
fond of quoting scripture, rephed, " Thank you. Sir, but 
I trust that I bear my trials with appropriate patience, 
for I know that whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth." 

His Majesty was invariably accompanied by the Queen, 
and both of them would be employed for the greater part 
of the day in seeing the troops at work, visiting the various 
mihtary estabhshments, enquiring into matters concerning 
the welfare of the soldiers and their famiUes, and in inform- 
ing themselves generally of the conditions of Aldershot hfe. 
Their Majesties always gave us the impression that they 
thoroughly enjoyed being amongst the troops, while we 
were dehghted to welcome them and to render their visits 
pleasant. 

The aeroplane, still in its infancy, was a feature of 
special interest at Aldershot during this period, the renowned 
Cody being amongst the bravest and most persevering of 
the pioneers engaged on this perilous work, as it then was. 



i68 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Under every disadvantage as regards money and material, 
he laboured for months and even years on Laffan's Plain, 
assisted by his son, to construct a machine that would 
consent to leave the ground, remain a reasonable time in 
the air, and then return to earth without smashing itself 
to pieces. Eventually he succeeded in accomphshing, for 
the times in which he Hved, some remarkable flights, but 
later he met the same fate as many other aviators of those 
early days. The country owes much to Cody. 

Kites and dirigible balloons were also still in the element- 
ary stage, and hke all other aeronautical duties were under 
the supervision of Colonel (now Major-General Sir) J. Capper. 

The tank was not yet in being, but its protot5^e, the 
" caterpillar," was, and was thought to have a great future 
as a tractor for dragging heavy guns and vehicles across 
broken ground. Universal sympathy was extended to the 
drivers, who, in consequence of the caterpillar's violent 
up-and-down motions, experienced all the sensations of 
acute sea-sickness, and looked it. 

In June 19 lo, while engaged on a staff tour in Leicester- 
shire, I received a letter from Sir WiUiam Nicholson offering 
me the post of Commandant of the Staff College. This 
unexpected offer, though flattering to me personally and 
possessing many attractive possibiHties, had the drawback 
common to other army appointments in that the post 
was greatly underpaid. However, I determined not to be 
baulked of a promising opening on that account, but to 
have a try at filling what was one of the most important 
positions which an officer of my standing could in peace 
time be called upon to hold. At the end of July I bade 
farewell to Aldershot, where I had made many friends and 
had learned much of the practical side of my profession 
from the officers with whom I had been associated. 



CHAPTER XI 

COMMANDANT OF THE STAFF COLLEGE 

History of college — Students and stafi — Promoted Major-General — 
Subjects of study — Nature of staff tours — System of classifying 
the students — Defects in instruction — Points on which special 
emphasis was laid — Importance of considering defensive as well as 
offensive warfare — Warning given to students about war with 
Germany — Naval War College — Admirals Jackson and Colville — 
Visits to the Loire and Amiens battlefields of 1870 war — My first 
speech in French — General Picquart — With the King's suite in 
army manoeuvres — Adventures with Oxley while motoring — 
Trinity College — Created Knight of the Victorian Order — Leave 
the Staff CoUege to become Director of MiHtary Training. 

While at Aldershot I had been nominated to act as Chief 
of the General Staff to Sir Herbert Plumer, who was to 
command one of the opposing sides at the army manoeuvres 
to be held in September, but my transfer to Camberley 
necessarily entailed the appointment of another officer, 
and as the Staff College was closed during August and Sep- 
tember for the summer vacation I utiUsed these two months 
in thinking over my new duties and deciding how best to 
carry them out. This was not a matter to be settled without 
careful consideration, for there is no position in the army 
where greater influence for good or for evil can be exerted 
over the rising generation of officers than that of Command- 
ant of the Staff College. 

The history of the college dates back to 1799, when an 
institution for educating officers for staff employment was 
estabhshed at High Wycombe, the superintendent being, 
for some reason unknown to me, a retired French officer, 
by name General Jarry. In 1802 this institution was 
given the designation of *' Senior Department of the Royal 
MiUtary College," and a Junior Department for educating 
cadets was added to it. Eleven years later the Senior 

169 



170 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Department was moved to Famham and in 1821 to Sand- 
hurst, and there the two branches continued to be known 
as the *' Royal MiUtary College." In 1862 the present 
Staff CoUege was built, but both colleges remained under 
the same Governor until 1870, when the Staff College was 
separated from the Royal Mihtary College for purposes of 
instruction, though it continued to be under it for adminis- 
tration. This system was most inconvenient, and while 
I was Commandant I induced the War Ofl&ce to separate 
the two colleges for aU purposes and so aUow each to look 
after itself. The number of students in the early days 
was very small and, as I have said in a previous chapter, 
amounted in 1897 to about sixty. Shortly before I became 
Commandant this number had grown to a hundred and 
twenty, and the instructional staff to fifteen. 

There was no adjutant or other administrative officer 
at the college, and many petty and tiresome details had 
therefore to be dealt with by me, whereas my whole time 
ought to have been devoted to instruction. Up to about 
thirty years before there had been an adjutant, and the 
story was that he had been abohshed on the recommendation 
of the Commandant, who, having a large family, was desirous 
of appropriating the adjoining quarters occupied by the 
adjutant, also a married man. The War Office approved 
my proposal to revert to the appointment of an adjutant, 
and I avoided the difficulty as to quarters by asking for 
a bachelor so that he might live in the college with the 
other officers. I was fortunate in securing for the post 
a very excellent officer — Captain Brewis of the Warwickshire 
Regiment — who was invaluable to me and a great favourite 
with staff and students ahke. To the deep regret of all 
who knew him, " Bobbie " Brewis was killed in the Great 
War. 

The object of the Staff College being to train officers 
not only for staff work but also for the duties of command, 
the name is rather a misnomer, and I have always thought 
that " War School " would be more appropriate. I tried 
to get this designation adopted, but without effect. I tried, 
too, to get the pay of the Commandant increased, but for 
a long time failed in this also. I set to work rather subtly. 



THE STAFF COLLEGE 171 

so I thought, a few weeks after I had been promoted Major- 
General in 1912. I pointed out to the authorities that I 
was still being shown in the Army List as a Brigadier- 
General of the General Staff, whereas I was in fact a Major- 
General, and that I could not understand why I should 
be given a title inferior to that conferred upon me by the 
King. They were at first puzzled to know what to do, as 
Major-General of the General Staff was not a recognised 
appointment, but eventually the higher title was accorded 
me, and having extracted this concession I then claimed to 
be paid at a rate consistent with the title. This was refused, 
no good reasons being given, but when Sir John French 
became Chief of the Imperial General Staff he saw the 
justice of the case and a higher scale of pay was sanctioned — 
the same day that I ceased to be Commandant ! 

I have already referred to the improvement made in the 
curriculum after Hildyard became Commandant in 1893, 
and when he left in 1897 the course was more exclusively 
practical than at any other college in Europe. Before 
and after the South African war his system was continued 
by Miles, and other useful reforms were later introduced 
by the present Lord Rawlinson, especially in the substi- 
tution of work on the ground for the less practical form of 
work on paper. Summarised, the main subjects were as 
follows : 

Military history and geography, strategy, and tactics, with 
special reference to modem campaigns, though older ones were 
also studied. 

Principles of Imperial Defence, defence of frontiers, plans of 
concentration, naval strategy and bases, defended ports, food- 
supplies of United Kingdom, British and foreign submarine 
cables, staff duties at home and in the field, organisation of 
the British and principal foreign armies, landings on an enemy's 
coast, oversea expeditions in general. 

System of transport and supply, economic geography, com- 
mercial law. 

Medical and ordnance services as affecting commanders and 
staff officers. 

Staff tours, as time and funds permitted. 

There were many other subjects, but the above will 
suffice to show the variety of the work done. 



172 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Speaking generally, the first year was devoted to the 
acquisition of knowledge, and the second to its application. 
The solving of problems dealing with tactical situations, 
billeting, camping, and other duties which lend themselves 
to this method of treatment, was a special feature of 
the second year's work, as also was the guiding of troops 
(imaginary) across roadless and unknown country by night. 

Staff tours, whose nature has already been explained, 
usually lasted three or four days, and I tried to conduct 
them in such a way as would test the students' tempers and 
physical powers as well as their knowledge. Information 
about the (imaginary) enemy would be given out at all 
hours of the day and night and emanate from aU sources — 
newspapers, secret agents, prisoners, inhabitants, and aero- 
planes — some of the news being reliable, some doubtful, 
some contradictory, and it was for the students to sift and 
piece together the different items, thus obtaining approxi- 
mately the same amount of information as they might 
be expected to get in war before they could regulate the 
action of their troops. This meant that they occasionally 
had no opportunity of going to bed at night, or only for a 
short time, notwithstanding that they had been hard at 
work during the day, and had another similar day in pros- 
pect. They took it all in good part, and it served to bring 
home to them that staff employment in war is not, as some 
people think, all beer and skittles. 

One staff tour was held annually in the Welsh mountains, 
so as to represent Indian frontier warfare, and on it the 
inexperienced students discovered what it means to make 
long mountain cHmbs on foot, and learnt how to protect 
camps at night in savage countries, capture passes crowned 
with sangars, arrange for the movement of long strings 
of pack animals following narrow tracks, and finally how to 
withdraw a force, sniped by hostile tribesmen from the 
adjacent hillsides, down the nalas to the frontier — at Bangor 
or Criccieth. 

The benefit students derive from the Staff College course 
naturally depends upon the quahty of the instruction, and 
good instructors, or directing staff as they are called, are 
not too easily come by. As a rule they are weU up in the 



COMMANDANT OF STAFF COLLEGE 173 

subjects with which they have to deal, or soon become so 
after joining the college, and there is no question as to their 
keenness to do their best for those under their charge. Not 
all, however, possess the gift of imparting in an interesting 
and intelHgible manner the knowledge they have been at 
such pains to acquire ; some have a tendency to ride a 
particular theory to death ; and others to attach so much 
importance to regulations as to convey the idea that a 
knowledge of them is in itself a proof of military proficiency. 

In order to keep myself acquainted with the kind of 
instruction given, and to correct what I thought to be 
wrong, I used to visit the lecture rooms at uncertain hours, 
and once caused some anxiety to the lecturer as well as 
amusement to the students, though I did not know this at 
the time. The lecturer had apparently intended to restrict 
the lecture to about twenty minutes, the orthodox duration 
being about fifty, and as I arrived on the scene just as he 
was coming to an end he proceeded to repeat the whole 
story again, so I discovered afterwards, the students loyally 
playing up to him by showing rapt attention in listening 
to what they had already heard only a few minutes before. 

I had, as all Commandants have had, some good in- 
structors and some who were not so good, but on the whole 
I was very well served and especially by the two senior 
assistants — Perceval of the Gunners and Johnny Gough 
of the Rifle Brigade — who were respectively in charge of 
the two divisions into which the students were formed. 
Gough had a high reputation as a briUiant and accompHshed 
soldier, and it was a heavy loss to the army when, as Chief 
of the General Staff of the ist Army, he was mortally 
wounded by a stray bullet in Flanders in February 1915, 
when going to visit his battalion in the trenches. He came 
of a renowned fighting family, and was the brother of Hubert 
Gough, who rose in the Great War from Brigadier to the 
command of the 5th Army, which fought so gallantly 
against overwhelming odds when the Germans made their 
great, but unsuccessful, bid for victory in March 1918. 

Amongst the other officers employed on the directing staff 
were Furse, Barrow, Ross and Ballard (contemporaries of 
mine when a student), Howell (a rising soldier, killed in 



174 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

the Great War), Foster and Hull (since dead), Stewart (who 
had distinguished himself in Kelly's march from Gilgit to 
Chitral), Harper, Hoskins, Davidson, and Percival. 

At the end of each term — there were three terms in the 
year — the directing staff of each of the two divisions met 
in conference to discuss the work done by the students and 
to classify them according to the abiUty they had shown. 
This classification underwent considerable alteration during 
the first year of the course, as the progress made by some 
of the officers was much greater than that made by others ; 
but in the second year it remained fairly constant, and by 
the end of that year it was perhaps as good an estimate of 
the students* capacity as could be made. There was no 
danger of favouritism, for if any one of the staff showed an 
undue leaning towards a student the others could be rehed 
upon to see that impartiality was maintained. As pre- 
viously mentioned, this method of deciding upon the 
students* qualifications was adopted while Hildyard was 
Commandant, in preference to the system hitherto in vogue 
by which they were placed in order of merit mainly accord- 
ing to the number of marks gained in paper examinations 
at the end of the course. It answered well, and this I think 
is proved by the fact that of the i8o officers who graduated 
during my regime very few failed in the Great War to come 
up to the expectation formed of them, and fewer still 
exceeded it. 

The students are liable to be sent away from the college 
for misconduct, or if they show themselves unlikely to 
become proficient staff officers or commanders. It fell to 
my lot to dismiss two only. One was a young man from 
the Overseas Dominions who, both by ordinary education 
and natural abihty, ought not to have been sent to the 
college, for he could never hope to be equal to a position 
of responsibility. 

The other was a clever and gallant of&cer who foolishly 
persisted in refusing to grow a moustache, thus contravening 
the King's Regulations of the time, which directed that the 
upper lip should not be shaved. Many of the young men 
of the period were in the habit of shaving, and as strict 
orders had been issued by the War Office forbidding the 



METHOD OF INSTRUCTION 175 

practice, and telling General Officers to put a stop to it, the 
offender was duly warned by the directing staff of his 
division. As this had no effect he was brought before me, 
and when I asked him why he continued to break the 
regulations he replied that they merely forbade shaving, 
and that he did not shave, but only made use of the scissors 
to cut off such few hairs as would grow, and which looked 
very ugly when allowed to grow. No one would be so 
idiotic as to think that an officer is any better for wearing 
a moustache than he is for shaving or clipping it off, and 
the regulation has since been abolished, but staff officers 
are expected to set an example of obeying the King's 
Regulations, and I had no alternative but to report the 
matter. The officer was ordered to leave the college, and 
I am sorry to add that he was killed in the Great War. 

On taking over command of the college the flaw in 
instruction which struck me most was one which is not 
uncommonly seen in other educational establishments — that 
is, the aptitude to dwell too much upon the theoretical 
aspect of a problem and the neglect to realise the difficulties 
which beset its solution in practice. Details, so-called, 
were thought to be petty and beneath the notice of the 
big-minded man, and yet they are the very things which 
nine hundred and ninety times out of a thousand make just 
the difference in war between success and failure. What- 
ever may be the case in peace time there are few or no small 
things in war, though some are of greater importance than 
others, and those who, like myself, attended the meetings 
of the War Cabinet for more than two years diuing the 
Great War will bear out this statement. 

Another objectionable habit I noticed was the craving to 
employ high-sounding phrases such as " pivot of manoeuvre," 
" interior lines," " offensive-defensive," and so on, all of 
which were right enough in their way, on paper, but in 
actual war do not greatly assist the ordinary commander in 
the thing that reaUy matters, the defeat of the enemy. 
There is only one road to victory, given a capable opponent, 
and that is the road of hard fighting, of which there is usually 
a great deal. I was very insistent on this point, and in the 
solution of problems, whether on paper or on the ground. 



176 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

I would always lead the student up to it and from it judge 
whether his solution was or was not sound. War, I would 
impress upon him, is largely a contest between the brains 
and grit of the opposing commanders, in which each en- 
deavours to outwit, outlast, and beat the other. 

In the course of my final address to the students who 
left the college at the end of 19 12 I said : 

It will further assist you to keep on the right lines if at all 
times you remember to study with the definite aim of obtaining 
guidance for future use in war, and not merely for the sake of 
amassing a store of information. Not one of us could compare 
perhaps with certain military historians who might be mentioned, 
as far as mere knowledge of past wars is concerned, and yet we 
do not admit that they would prove to be our best commanders. 
Why ? Simply because they do not study miUtary history, we 
think, in the way that we do or ought to do, namely with the 
object of making actual use in war of the knowledge acquired. 
If we conduct our investigations from this standpoint we shall 
not be likely to waste time in fascinating, but valueless, hair- 
splitting dialectics ; we wiQ not make too frequent use of stereo- 
typed phrases which may mean one of several things or even 
nothing at all ; we shall not burden our minds with too many 
historical parallels ; and will not be so apt to form conclusions 
which, however attractive they may appear on paper, have Uttle 
or no connection with the rough and bloody work of masses of 
men trying to kill each other. 

The question of giving more instruction in duties con- 
nected with a retreat also called for attention. The training 
regulations dwelt with great persistence on the importance 
of the offensive, and the idea of fighting on the defensive 
was thought to be so obnoxious to the minds of the 
authorities that, for some time past, it had been deemed 
poHtic to leave defensive training severely alone. There 
was the greater inclination to leave it alone because of the 
impossibility of reproducing in peace some of the conditions 
— and the most important of them — which attach to a 
retreat in war. Still it was necessary to do all that could 
be done, for however valuable offensive action, may be, and 
undoubtedly is, there could be no certainty that a defensive 
pohcy would not one day be imposed upon us, and for that 
contingency we ought to be prepared. I therefore made it 




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MEASURES FOR RETREAT 177 

an almost invariable practice at all staff tours and other 
exercises on the ground to create a situation that entailed 
taking measures for retreat, and the following extract from 
the final address referred to above bears on the same 
subject : 

Of all forms of making war the one that demands most 
careful study is that of fighting a superior and well-trained force. 
Every soldier feels, and ought to feel, a great aversion from retiring 
from before the enemy without a trial of strength, and yet if the 
enemy is found to be superior (I do not refer merely to numbers), 
and is concentrated, there may be nothing for it but to fall back 
and await a better opportunity, as many a good general has had 
to do in the past. For example, Moore to Corunna ; Wellington 
in 1810 and again in 1812 ; Napoleon to Leipzig in 1813 and to 
Paris in 1814 ; and Jackson and Lee in the American Civil War. 
The great difi&culty attaching to operations of this nature is to 
reconcile two conflicting aims — the husbanding of one's own 
forces and the infliction of loss upon the enemy — and it can only 
be overcome if the commander possesses sound judgment and a 
powerful iron will ; if the staff are accurate in their calculations 
and untiring in their efforts ; and if the troops possess great 
mobility, high morale, confidence in their leaders, and good 
fighting capacity in general. Remember, too, that the larger the 
force the more difficult does the operation become. Our regula- 
tions justly lay stress on the value of the offensive ; but if this 
teaching alone is given, think what may be the effect on the troops 
when they are ordered to retire instead of to go forward — that 
is, to abandon that method of making war by which alone, 
according to the training they have previously received, decisive 
victory can be achieved. Think, too, of the disintegration and 
demoralisation which nearly always accompany retrograde move- 
ments, even when an army has not been previously defeated. It 
seems to me that there is practically no chance of successfully 
carrying out this operation in war unless we thoroughly study and 
practice it beforehand during peace. If we have this practice, 
the operation will then not come as a surprise to the troops in 
war ; they will understand better what they are expected to do ; 
and they wHl recognise it as being a form of war which may have 
to be adopted by any army, and can be adopted, not only without 
failure, but with a certain measure, ultimately, of success. You 
wiU do well to study the methods of Wellington in the Peninsula, 
and the teaching furnished by the American Civil war on this 
important subject. 

I have reason to believe that this advice, pubhshed in 

N 



178 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

the Army Review by the order of the Secretary of State for 
War, Lord Haldane, caused other and more senior officers 
to give increased attention to defensive fighting, and thereby 
was indirectly of some help to them in the historic retreat 
from Mons. 

Emphasis was also laid, day in and day out, on the 
importance of the staff cultivating close and friendly relations 
with the regimental officers, and of preventing the erection 
of the barrier which at one period separated the two with 
such pernicious effect. This advice, too, I beheve, bore 
fruit in the Great War, as did also the injunction not to be 
content with merely giving orders, but, by watching and 
helping before matters had time to go wrong, ensure that 
they were carried out as the commander desired. 

Another warning persistently rubbed in was the prob- 
ability of war with Germany, and the responsibihties it 
would cast upon Staff College officers in particular. In this 
connection, and at the risk of being accused of unduly blow- 
ing my own trumpet, I shall quote from the final address 
I made to the students who left at the end of 1911 : 

So far as one can judge from the present state of the world, 
you may any day find yourselves taking part in a war than 
which there hcis been no greater for the last hundred years or so, 
and it may be upon you to whom I am now speaking that to a 
great extent will depend how we emerge from that war. We are 
too apt to go on day by day discussing the probability and conse- 
quences of certain wars, without ever really recognising our own 
individual responsibility, and remember that officers who have 
been through the Staff College have the greater responsibility. 
You do not come here for the sake of passing examinations at 
the end of the first year, and of obtaining a P.S.C. at the end of 
the second. You come here in order that you may leave the 
college better and more efficient members of the military com- 
munity. You should endeavour to increase the knowledge you 
have acquired, disseminate it amongst others, and, as I have 
often told you, direct your studies and peace preparations in general 
to a special and definite end — that of fighting the most probable and 
most formidable adversary for the time being. 

Finally, remember that when the day for fighting comes, the 
qualifications demanded of you, whether on the staff or in 
command, will include, in addition to a good theoretical know- 
ledge of your professional duties, the possession of a quick eye, 



SIR HENRY JACKSON 179 

a good digestion, an untiring activity, a determination to close 
with your enemy, and a firm resolution not to take counsel of 
your fears. 

It was well understood between me and the students 
who " the most probable and most formidable adversary " 
was. We had often discussed him, and there was no need 
to mention him by name. That was seldom done, as the 
hint had long since been received from London that we were 
not in any way to meddle with questions which might, if 
they became known, give offence to a friendly (!) Power, and 
possibly lead to " diplomatic complications.*' " Mum " was 
the word, therefore, in regard to all work — and there was 
a great deal — which was designed to assist the students in 
studying the conflict which threatened us, and which we 
had in fact to meet within less than three years of the time 
when the above words were spoken. 

Shortly before I became Commandant the Admiralty had 
established a War College at Portsmouth, with the object 
of giving instruction to naval officers somewhat similar to 
that given at the Staff College. The course was, however, 
much shorter, and in other respects was not regarded as 
being of quite the same importance, but I should imagine 
that it did a great deal of good, and it undoubtedly 
helped to bring the two services closer together. Two or 
three naval officers attended the Staff College for a few 
months as students, and military officers were sent to the 
Naval College ; the students of both colleges, with their 
instructors, occasionally took part in combined naval and 
military exercises, in which there was a useful exchange of 
ideas ; and in many ways the officers of the two colleges 
were able to learn much from and about each other. 
Amongst the naval friends I had the good fortune to make 
in this way was Sir Henry Jackson, then Commandant of 
the Naval College. He very kindly arranged for me to 
spend a week at sea with the ist Battle Squadron, com- 
manded by Admiral Sir Stanley Colville. The work of the 
squadron was full of interest for me, especially the " battle 
practice/' and I was most hospitably treated by the Admiral 
and the officers of his fine flagship the Collingwood. 



i8o FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Besides making the usual trips to the more classical 
battlefields of 1870—71 — Spicheren, Woerth, and Gravelotte 
— I revived the custom which had lapsed in recent years of 
taking the students to the battlefields near Amiens, Orleans, 
and Le Mans. I did so because these battles had a special 
value of their own, as they were fought by partially-trained 
and hastily-raised French troops, and I always felt that one 
day we ourselves might have to fight with the same kind of 
troops, as indeed we had to do in the Great War. I think 
I am justified in saying that the discussions which ensued 
and the knowledge that was acquired during these visits 
were of benefit to the students when employed with the 
troops of which our New Armies were composed. 

During one of the visits to Orleans, the headquarters of 
a French army corps, I had an interesting conversation 
with the corps commander, who, as a young man, had fought 
in the French cavalry during the war. He had been present 
at the famous cavalry charge at Morsbronn, and then went 
with the remains of MacMahon's army to Sedan, where he 
took part in the cavalry charge which preceded the invest- 
ment of that place, his regiment being one of the few to 
break through the German lines before the French forces 
were entirely surrounded. He was then sent south to the 
Loire, being present at the various battles near Orleans, and 
he was therefore able to give much information in regard to 
them. 

One day he invited me to bring my fifty odd students 
after dinner to meet some of his officers at the military club. 
We were given a most cordial reception, and after the 
national anthem had been played by a large band outside 
the club, which was brilliantly illuminated, we were con- 
ducted inside. We entered a room profusely decorated with 
flowers and flags, and sat down to enjoy dessert, wine, 
coffee, and smokes. To my surprise our host got on his 
feet towards the end of the evening, and made a very 
eulogistic speech respecting the British army, and its past 
and present relations with the French army. One of his 
staff then read the English translation of the speech, which 
had evidently been prepared with much care, and it then 
remained for me to reply. 



SPEECH-MAKING i8i 

Having been taken unawares, and being at all times 
incapable of making a public speech on the spur of the 
moment, I felt that the only thing to do was to put on a 
bold front and try to score by repl5dng in French. I knew 
that my vocabulary was very limited, and that my French 
pronunciation was execrably bad, but there seemed nothing 
for it but to do or die. After talking for the space of some 
ten minutes, and having tried the effect of a few jokes — 
which apparently were not understood and certainly did 
not amuse — the proceedings became distinctly flat, and as 
a total collapse seemed to be imminent I made a last 
despairing effort not to be beaten. I apologised for my 
ignorance of the French language, regretted I could not say 
half what I wished to say, and added that, being unable to 
speak further, I would call on my officers to sing a ditty 
commonly heard at similar reunions in England. I then 
proposed the health of the corps commander and asked 
the officers to sing '* For he's a jolly good fellow." They 
responded with even more than the usual amount of noise 
and discord, and all that the French officers could grasp of 
the performance was a repetition of the same words. Next 
morning I bought the local newspaper in order to see what 
kind of account was given of the entertainment. The corps 
commander's speech, a very good one, was reported verbatim. 
Mine was not, I did not expect that it would be. But the 
reporter credited me with a far better speech than the one 
I had actually delivered, and added that, at the end of it, I 
called upon my officers to sing the well-known English song 
of which the chorus was, " For thou art a very good man ! " 

On another occasion, in 1913, we were invited by General 
Picquart to meet the officers of the army corps at Amiens. 
Not to be again caught napping I took the precaution to 
ask Maurice — one of my staff and an excellent French 
scholar — to prepare a speech for me beforehand. It was 
well that I did so, for I had to reply to a most flattering 
welcome, and can claim (thanks to Maurice) to have come 
out of the ordeal with flying colours. I had a long talk 
with the General before we parted. He was a native of 
Strasburg, and as a boy of about ten years of age was in 
the city when the Germans besieged it in 1870. He de- 



i82 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

scribed to me, with some emotion, how his family had lost 
all their property and treasures, and he evidently looked 
forward to the day of reckoning, and hoped that when it 
arrived we would be on his side. A few months afterwards 
he was thrown from his horse and killed. 

So as not to lose all touch with the practical side of 
soldiering I used to attend the annual divisional and brigade 
trainings as far as college duties would allow. One year I 
was asked to prepare a scheme for the inter-divisional 
manoeuvres of two of the commands in England, and to 
draft it in such a way as to test the leadership of two 
brigadiers who were shortly to be considered by the Selection 
Board for promotion to Major-General. I therefore so 
arranged matters that at the commencement of the opera- 
tions the two officers found themselves opposing each other, 
each being in command of a detachment which was unlikely 
to be reinforced for a period of at least twelve hours, and 
I left them as free a hand as possible in dealing with the 
situation thus created, so that they might show what they 
could do. How they emerged from the test it was no part 
of my business as chief umpire to say, and I do not pretend 
to know what opinion was formed of them by the two 
General Officers under whom they were serving, and who 
exercised chief supervision over the operations ; but I do 
know that they were not promoted when their turn came, 
and yet both of them rose to positions of high command in 
the Great War. Manoeuvres afford the best means in time 
of peace for testing the capacity of an ofi&cer to command 
troops in war, but they are not always a reliable guide of 
a commander's merit ; they are very different from the 
real thing. 

In 19 12 I was ordered to accompany the King during 
the army manoeuvres in Cambridgeshire, and wishing to 
make myself acquainted with the country over which they 
were to take place, I motored through it a few days previous 
to the commencement of operations, being accompanied by 
Colonel Oxley, who was then on the directing staff of the 
college. One morning a powerful car suddenly emerged at 
full speed from a blind corner at some cross-roads we were 
passing, striking our lighter car — an open one — full broad- 



MOTOR ACCIDENTS 183 

side and turning it completely round and upside down. 
Oxley, I, and the chauffeur were shot clean out of it, for- 
tunately landing on a patch of grass, for a distance, as we 
afterwards ascertained, of twelve yards. On picking our- 
selves up we were surprised to find that we were quite 
unhurt beyond a few bruises, and I still held in my hands 
the map and magnifying glass I had been using at the 
moment the collision occurred. The car was practically a 
wreck. 

Oxley was wont to be a Jonah in his motor drives. Two 

or three days later his car was again struck by one coming 

from a side road, though he once more escaped with a 

shaking; and one day, when motoring with me along the 

foot of the South Downs, there was further trouble. We 

met a ramshackle country cart being driven by a boy, in 

which were two large casks probably containing pigwash or 

some such mixture. As the road was narrow we slowed 

down almost to a halt, the boy directing his cart off the 

road and up the rather steep hill-side so as to pass us. This 

brought the full load of the cart to bear on the wheel next 

to us, and just as we were passing the axle gave way and 

the boy and the contents of his casks were flung into our 

car. Oxley was fairly well drenched, but, to his intense 

rehef, it transpired that the casks held nothing worse than 

drinking water, and the total damage done, over and above 

the broken axle, was hmited to barking the boy's shins. 

We gave him 2s. 6d. as compensation, and then proceeded 

on our journey. 

During the manoeuvres the King and his suite were 
accommodated in Trinity College, everything possible being 
done by the college officials to render the visit pleasant to 
all of us. At the end of the manoeuvres the usual conference, 
or " pow-wow," was held in the hall of the college, some of 
the Fellows attending to hear how the soldiers acquitted 
themselves in the talking line. The time of day, immediately 
after luncheon, was not conducive to alert attention, and 
for the first hour or so the proceedings dragged on in a dull 
and dreary manner, with little or no prospect of ever coming 
to an end. This depressing circumstance, plus the lunch, 
was too much for some of the audience, and the Master in 



i84 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

particular had to struggle very hard to prevent his nodding 
head from coming into contact with the table at which he 
sat at the top of the hall. 

The following year the manoeuvres were held in 
Northamptonshire. I was again attached to the King's 
suite, all of whom were the guests of Lord Spencer at 
Althorp. The party numbered about twenty, and included 
the Queen, the Duke of Connaught, and Prince Arthur of 
Connaught. Lord Spencer was a deUghtful host, surpassed 
in kindness, if at all, only by his daughter Lady Deha, who 
acted as hostess. By his invitation I went to Althorp a few 
days before the manoeuvres commenced so as to talk over 
and arrange certain matters with him previous to Their 
Majesties' arrival, and I have the most pleasant recollection 
of the hospitahty received. 

On the day the manoeuvres terminated I was informed 
by Clive Wigram, one of the equerries, that the King wished 
to see me. I found His Majesty with the Queen, Lord 
Spencer, and a few members of the suite in the famous 
picture gallery, and was then told by the King that in 
return for the services I had rendered during the last few 
years he proposed to make me a Knight Commander of the 
Victorian Order. I was more than surprised, somewhat 
nervous, and quite ignorant as to what I was expected to 
do, but Wigram came to the rescue, drew the sword he was 
wearing, handed it to the King, and told me to kneel down. 
Having duly knighted me the King put out his hand, and not 
knowing what else to do I shook it, rising to my feet at the 
same time. I ought to have kissed it, of course, as a sign of 
homage, but the King was probably quite as pleased to see 
me shake it. The incident brought a broad smile over the 
faces of the onlookers, and I beat as hasty a retreat as I 
respectfully could. I have always felt far more gratified 
with the honour thus simply and spontaneously conferred 
upon me as a mark of His Majesty's personal esteem, than 
with any of the rewards since received on the recommenda- 
tion of ministers or my military superiors. 

In the summer of 1913 I was told by Sir John French 
that he wished me to go to the War Office as Director of 
Military Training. This was much against my incUnation, 



LEAVING THE STAFF COLLEGE 185 

as I have always disliked life in London, more especially 
official life, and I was anxious to be given active command 
of troops. However, the Field-Marshal was good enough to 
make his request more palatable by promising me the 
command of the ist Division at Aldershot when it became 
vacant in the summer of the following year. 

The night before leaving the Staff College, in October 
1913, I was entertained by the staff and students at dinner, 
and I am not ashamed to say that in the short farewell 
speech I made to them my heart was fairly in my mouth. 
Black sheep are to be found in nearly every flock, but there 
are an unusual small proportion of them at the Staff College. 
Both staff and students are of the most attractive character, 
hard workers, lovable companions whether at work or play, 
and really good fellows in every sense of the word. I grieve 
to think that over one hundred and fifty of the officers 
who had graduated at Camberley met their death in the 
Great War. 

The next time I dined with a party of Staff College 
officers was at Cologne in 1919, when in command of the 
Army of the Rhine. Dillon, my private secretary, collected 
all the P.S.C. officers then serving under my orders (I am 
afraid one was unintentionally left out), and we spent a 
pleasant evening together at my house overlooking the 
river, discussing the old Camberley days and the great 
events which had since taken place. 



CHAPTER XII 

DIRECTOR OF MILITARY TRAINING 

Duties — Unsatisfactory responsibility for training — Arrangements for 
command at home in time of war — " Staff " cannot " command " — 
Question of invasion — Invasion ruled out as impracticable and 
replaced by theory of raids — Reversion to invasion theory — 
Question mainly one for the Admiralty — Constant discussions 
jQnally settled in August 191 4 — Pohcy as to invasion during the 
Great War — Economy exercised to the detriment of training — 
" Curragh incident " and its effect on army officers — " Joe " Maude 
— Collapse of the proposed coercion of Ulster and resignation of the 
Secretary of State for War, the Chief of the Impeiial General Staff, 
and the Adjutant-General — Sir Charles Douglas — Army manoeuvres 
arranged for 1914 — War with Germany declared — Am appointed 
Quartermaster-General of the Expeditionary Force. 

I JOINED the staff at the War Office for the third time on 
the 9th October 1913. As Director of Military Training I 
was responsible to the Chief of the Imperial General Staff 
for the training of all troops at home, for the education of 
of&cers (including the Cadets at Woolwich and Sandhurst 
and the Officers Training Corps), and for questions connected 
with home defence. The directorate was in good working 
order, thanks to the efforts of Murray while in charge of 
it from September 1907 to June 19 12, excellent training 
manuals had been prepared, and I had Httle to do except 
ensure that the appHcation of the principles they contained 
kept pace with changing conditions. 

There was, however, an objectionable flaw in the chain 
of responsibihty for training, in that all training instructions 
were prepared under the orders of the Chief of the Imperial 
General Staff, while the troops were inspected, not by him, 
or his staff, but by a separate body of Inspectors located at 
the Horse Guards imder an Inspector-General, the latter 
reporting the results of the inspections to the Army Council. 

186 




(4 



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C 

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y. 



DIRECTOR OF MILITARY TRAINING 187 

The position therefore was that while the General Staff 
drafted the training instructions they had no opportunity 
— except by arranging occasionally to accompany the 
Inspector- General — of seeing and hearing for themselves 
how they worked in practice ; and on the other hand the 
Inspector- General's Staff had this opportunity but were 
without the authority to change the instructions if found 
to be unsuitable. 

The system had been introduced by the Esher Committee 
ten years before, the idea of having a separate inspecting 
branch having probably been taken from the large con- 
tinental armies, in which it was necessary to have Inspectors 
constantly moving about between one command and 
another so as to ensure uniformity. With our comparatively 
small army there was not nearly the same necessity for them, 
as uniformity could have been safeguarded, and at far less 
expense, by inspections carried out by the Chief of the 
Imperial General Staff and his subordinates, and, moreover, 
the latter wo\ild have had the benefit of maintaining closer 
touch with the troops for whose training they were primarily 
responsible. Even if a separate inspecting staff were required 
it should have been placed under the orders of the Chief of 
the Imperial General Staff, as in foreign armies, and not 
made, as it was, independent of him. 

This illogical system, which might have proved very 
mischievous had not the General Staff and Inspecting Staff 
been careful to work closely together, came to an end when 
a Commander-in-Chief of all troops in the United Kingdom 
was appointed in December 1915, as the Inspecting Staff 
was then made part of his headquarters and its independent 
status thus disappeared. Both he and the Inspecting Staff 
were abohshed early in 1920. 

The arrangements for the supreme command at home 
in time of war were also not as satisfactory as could be 
desired. The scheme for home defence contemplated the 
employment of a large number of troops ; these were 
located in peace time in seven different commands, and 
thus served under the orders of seven different Com- 
manders-in-Chief ; and when required for home defence 
duties they would differ materially in composition and 



i88 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

efficiency according to the conditions of the moment. In 
these circumstances, and on the accepted assumption that 
the greatest danger of an overseas attack would be in the 
earhest stage of the war, the exercise of supreme command 
was boimd to be difficult and compHcated, and therefore 
it was desirable that this duty should be definitely assigned 
to an officer selected during peace, so that he might, subject 
to the instructions of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 
draw up his plan and make himself acquainted beforehand 
with the many details which would affect its execution. No 
such officer was, however, in existence, nor was it intended 
to have one in war. As I have just said, the Director of 
Mihtary Training was responsible in peace that suitable 
measures were taken for home defence, and although some 
additional senior commanders were to be appointed in war, 
the supreme control of all mihtary operations in the United 
Kingdom was to be exercised by the War Office, that is, by 
the Chief of the Imperial General Staff. 

This was not a sound arrangement, and it showed a 
strange forgetfulness of the elementary principles of mihtary 
organisation. A staff officer cannot command troops and is 
not meant to do so ; while in any war which would render 
us Hable to invasion it was practically certain that the Chief 
of the Imperial General Staff would have far too much to 
engage his attention in other parts of the world, and in the 
raising and training of additional troops, to admit of his 
being able to carry direct responsibihty for the security of 
the home front, nor ought he to be troubled with every 
petty hostile raid by sea or air that might be attempted. 

Had we been subjected in the Great War to any serious 
attack from oversea the truth of these remarks might have 
been estabhshed in a rather unpleasant manner. As it was, 
the system proved to be defective both as regards efficiency of 
defence and economy of personnel, and, hke that of training, 
had to be remedied by the appointment of a Commander-in- 
Chief in 1915 — the only way in which it could be remedied. 
Whatever may be said for or against the appointment of a 
Commander-in-Chief of the home forces in time of peace, 
there is no doubt that one is required when we have a great 
war on our hands. I shall refer to this question again in the 



HOME DEFENCE 189 

chapter dealing with my experiences as Chief of the Imperial 
General Staff. 

For years before I became Director of MiUtary Training 
there had been a constant difference of of&cial opinion as 
to the necessity of maintaining a home defence force. As 
mentioned in Chapter VII., it had been decided in 1888 that 
the provision of this force was the " primary duty " of the 
mihtary authorities, and, notwithstanding the differences 
of opinion, this pohcy may be said to have held good 
till 1905, when it was replaced by one of an entirely opposite 
character, the Prime Minister, Mr. Balfour, then lajdng 
down that " the serious invasion of these islands is not a 
possibility that we need consider.*' A distinction was drawn 
at about the same time between invasion and raids, the 
feasibihty of the latter being admitted, and the question 
then arose : When is a raid not a raid ? The answer 
eventually given was that an attack by a force not exceeding 
10,000 men should be classed as a raid : if by more than 
that number the attack became invasion and therefore could 
be ruled out as impracticable. 

Later it was discovered that two separate raids of 10,000 
men each might be attempted simultaneously, so as to give 
one of them a better chance of succeeding; it was also 
admitted that raids on a smaller scale — from 500 to 2000 
men each — against any one of several possible, though less 
important, objectives might be attempted ; and, finally, it 
was agreed that, as a raid would be a matter of, say, forty- 
eight hours only, and might be made without any warning, 
there would not be time to transfer troops from one vulner- 
able point in order to repel an attack on another. Provision 
had accordingly to be made to meet these conclusions, and 
the general result of accepting the pohcy as to raids and 
rejecting that of invasion was to add compHcations to a 
problem which was already loaded with complexity, and 
to make little if any reduction in the total number of 
troops required to give security. 

The doctrine of no-invasion was replaced in 1909 by the 
original pohcy, Mr. Asquith, who was then Prime Minister, 
announcing in the House of Commons that it was " the 
business of the War Office to see that we have in aU circum- 



igo FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

stances a properly organised and properly equipped force 
capable of dealing effectively with a possible invading force 
of seventy thousand men." This figure held the field when 
I became Director of Military Training, and I had not been 
long in the post before the eternal question was again brought 
forward for consideration. 

In the many discussions which followed at the meetings 
of the Committee of Imperial Defence, the " blue- water 
school," or anti-invasionists, would at one time be on top, 
at another it was the " bolt from the blue " party, or pro- 
invasionists, who scored. Exactly which came out best 
depended chiefly upon the comparative debating skill of 
the representative spokesmen, and words continued to 
obscure and confuse the main issue until the question was 
definitely settled by the breaking out of war in August 1914. 

This diversity of views was not conducive either to 
economy or to a good system of miUtary organisation, and, 
as the responsible staff officer for home defence, I would 
often have been far more anxious than I was had there 
been no Territorial Force. Invasion or no invasion, this 
Force was, at any rate, a substantial military asset to have 
to fall back upon, and the services it rendered in many parts 
of the world during the Great War were a proof that there 
was more value in the volunteer movement than many 
people supposed. 

To my mind, the possibility of invasion was essentially a 
question to be answered by the Admiralty, granted that the 
enemy, as in the case of Germany, had ample troops at his 
disposal, good communications between his garrison towns 
and ports of embarkation, and was prepared to risk losing his 
sea-communications in return for the prospective advantages 
to be gained once a landing was effected. More than a 
century had elapsed since our fleet had fought a really 
formidable enemy ; many new inventions had meanwhile 
been introduced ; naval operations are notoriously Hable 
to the uncertainties of war ; and it was for the Admiralty 
to say whether, having regard to these considerations and 
to the strength of the enemy's fleet, they could undertake 
to prevent a landing. I always replied, therefore, to those 
who argued against the practicability of invasion that it 



RESPONSIBILITY OF THE NAVY 191 

was for the Admiralty to give a reasonable — not necessarily 
an absolute — guarantee, which would be acceptable to the 
Government, that they could in all circumstances prevent 
a hostile landing ; that if no such assurance could be given, 
we ought to be prepared to deal with a landing by miUtary 
means ; and that, irrespective of the feasibihty of the 
operation, it was conceivable that, owing to the mere threat 
of attack on our coast-towns, the Government might, in the 
event of war with Germany, be compelled by public opinion 
to retain at home a considerable number of troops urgently 
needed on the continent. It was, in fact, to meet this 
threat rather than to meet actual invasion or raids that 
suitable preparations for home defence were required. 

During the time that I was Director of Military Training 
I do not remember that the Admiralty ever saw their way 
definitely to give the guarantee — and their hesitation was easy 
to understand — but there were those in high places who 
continued to argue that the navy alone afforded sufficient 
security, and who scoffed at the idea that Germany might 
seek to spring a surprise upon us by secretly preparing and 
despatching a raiding or invading force without a previous 
declaration of war. " Why," it was asked, " should it be 
contemplated for a moment that a civilised country Uke 
Germany will be guilty of such atrocious conduct as to 
make a dehberate attack upon a nation with whom she is 
still at peace ? No, a bolt from the blue, or invasion of 
any kind, is a preposterous theory, and even assuming it 
were attempted it could never succeed." 

I have hstened to the reiteration of these and similar 
arguments for hours at a time, but they do not seem to 
have been quite so much to the fore when war came along 
in 1914. Only four of our six regular divisions were at 
first allowed to proceed to France ; for a great part of the 
war the standard of 70,000 possible invaders was not only 
retained but increased ; and a considerable number of 
troops were for long kept back in this country. It was 
not until the war was nearly three years old that the 
reinforcement of the divisions abroad was allowed to take 
unquestioned precedence over the estimated requirements 
for the home front, and I have yet to learn that this pohcy 



FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

ever really opposed by those who, with great courage 

still greater eloquence, had been so eager before the 
to pour ridicule upon those who advocated the adoption 
easonable home defence measures. The truth is, that 
ever bravely one may talk in time of peace, when 
ight up in war against the grim proposition of an enemy 
Ing at his disposal milUons of soldiers, an undefeated 
:, and abundant transports, within a few hours steaming 
ur coast, no government dare rely, or would be allowed 
lo so by public opinion, solely upon the navy for the 
irity of England — the nerve-centre of the whole Empire. 
To revert to the question of training, I may recall the 

that reduction of expenditure on army services was 
jtantly being pressed in the years immediately before 
Great War; " estimates " had to be cut down to their 
3st Umit ; and there was, for practical purposes, but Httle 
itional preparation for the conflict so soon to burst upon 

I am reminded of one particular instance of this. It 

been suggested to me that, in view of the experiences 
he Russo-Japanese war, we ought to train the infantry 
hrowing hand-grenades, or bombs as we now call them. 

this purpose I asked for the troops to be supplied with 
imy-bombs, costing about twopence each, and also with 
srtain number of live grenades for purposes of demon- 
,tion. Sanction was obtained for a small number of the 
penny bombs, at a total cost of perhaps not more than 
ty or forty pounds, while as regards the hve grenades it 

decided that they were too dangerous as well as too 
ensive to be issued. (They certainly did cost a great 
1 — I believe nearly £i each.) The decision was toned down 
giving permission for battalions to send a few selected 
1 to see live grenades thrown by expert sappers ! I should 
ik that some scores of millions were thrown by our men 
he Great War, costing about sixpence apiece. 
The War Minister of the day was not to be blamed for 

scarcity of funds. His business was, as it always is, 
show a saving on the estimates of the preceding year. 
: policy was a pohcy of peace, and war on a great scale 
the continent was hardly allowed in the picture at all 
iar as the army was concerned. The accepted plan was 



THE CURRAGH INCIDENT 193 

that, in certain eventualities, we should send oversea an Ex- 
peditionary Force of one cavalry and six infantry divisions, 
that the Territorial Force would be employed for home 
defence, and that the Special Reserve would supply the 
Expeditionary Force with drafts. Beyond these limits the 
German danger was disregarded, and the people as a whole 
cared Httle or nothing for the army so long as there was a 
strong navy, and, uninformed by their leaders, they were 
not encouraged to care anything for it. They were more 
concerned with internal poHtics, social reforms, and the 
enjoyment of agreeable week-ends. 

In March 1914 occurred the imfortunate " Curragh 
incident," which arose, it will be remembered, in con- 
nection with the proposal to use troops for the coercion of 
Ulster, then busy arming and drilling with the intention of 
opposing the introduction of Home Rule. The members of 
the Government responsible for the proposal appear to have 
given no thought to its practical side as a mihtary question, 
and were completely taken aback when certain officers at 
the Curragh, whose regiments were to be employed, sent 
in their resignations and declined to serve. Soldiers cannot 
be treated as if they had neither souls nor consciences, and 
to expect them to undertake a duty which may lead to 
shooting down those with whose ideals and rehgion they are 
in S5mipathy is to expect a great deal. 

While the crisis lasted I was besieged by excited officers 
in the War Office and from elsewhere asking my advice as 
to what they should do, for they were determined, they 
said, to stand by their comrades who had declined to obey 
an order which they considered to be both unjust and illegal. 
I had no hesitation in telling them to go away, make their 
minds easy, and get on with their work, as I felt sure that 
in the long run any intention there might be of employing 
troops against the Ulster men would be abandoned. 

One of the officers who came to see me was " Joe " 
Maude, the head of the training branch of my directorate, 
and afterwards the commander of the forces in Mesopotamia 
in the Great War. I had brought him only a short time 
before from the Curragh, where he had been on the General 
Staff and had made many friends amongst the officers 

o 



194 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

implicated. He told me that he felt it to be his duty to 
resign his commission, as they had done, and it was with 
some difficulty that I persuaded him to take my advice 
and sit tight. 

I had no knowledge, nor had any other director in the 
General Staff I think, of the proposal to use troops in the 
manner mentioned until it had been more or less decided 
to use them, and when officially informed of it my first 
question was : " Which directorate will be responsible 
for making the necessary arrangements and issuing the 
orders ? " The responsibihty for operations outside the 
United Kingdom rested with the Director of Mihtary 
Operations ; that for operations inside, but only as against 
oversea attack, rested with me — the Director of Military 
Training ; and the Adjutant-General dealt with the use of 
troops in aid of the civil power. The case of Ulster did not 
fall within any one of these three spheres, and not wishing 
to have anything to do with it each of us argued that it 
was not his business. In the end it was settled that if 
troops had to be employed the duty would come under the 
heading of home defence, and the arrangements to be made 
would accordingly fall upon me. 

I then asked a few further questions : " Are we supposed 
to be going to war with Ulster ; that is, will the troops be 
on ' active service ' ? If we are not going to war what are 
we going to do, as the case is obviously not one of suppressing 
civil disorder because there is no disorder at present ? If 
we are going to war, is mobihsation to be ordered, and what 
ammunition, suppUes, and transport are the troops to take ? 
What instructions are to be given to the General in command 
regarding the nature and object of his mission ? " 

Coupled with the Curragh resignations, these questions 
brought matters to a head, for there was no answer to some 
of them, and when the light had thus been turned on the 
affair became one of heated discussions, alleged misunder- 
standings, impatient explanations, and a general running 
to and fro between the different offices and departments in 
Whitehall. In the course of two or three days the whole 
proposal deservedly came to an inglorious end, and we were 
exceedingly glad to hear the last of it and be allowed to 



SIR CHARLES DOUGLAS 195 

get on with more sensible work. The Secretary of State for 
War, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and the 
Adjutant-General resigned their appointments, and Mr. 
Asquith took charge of the War Office in addition to his 
duties of Prime Minister. 

The new Chief of the Imperial General Staff was Sir 
Charles Douglas, a very conscientious officer who would 
insist upon working more hours a day than his state of 
health justified, and it was largely due to this habit that he 
died a few weeks after the Great War broke out. He had 
quite a unique knowledge of the details of all army matters, 
and although he had the reputation of being somewhat 
abrupt and overbearing in manner I always found him to 
be a very considerate chief as well as a good friend. 

For the manoeuvres of 1914 1 had, subject to his approval, 
selected an area in the west of England, and together we 
spent several days going over the ground and considering 
how my suggested scheme of operations would work out. 
It involved the passage of the Severn by a force retiring 
before an enemy of superior strength, and Douglas was at 
first rather afraid that the operations might get out of 
control and end in a fiasco, but later he accepted the scheme. 
As I have already said, manoeuvre schemes in the past had 
usually led up to and finished with a pitched battle, into 
which both sides threw themselves headlong and hoped for 
the best. Douglas agreed with me that a change was desir- 
able, and that as our army might one day find itself being 
driven back in war by a superior force it would be well 
to give it some practice beforehand. The manoeuvres were 
due to take place in September, but before then we were en- 
gaged in the real thing in France, and were being driven back 
by overwhelming masses of Germans. The study of the 
manoeuvres we had planned was most helpful to me during 
the first few weeks of the war, when I was hard put to it 
to keep the troops supplied with what they needed. 

As the Director of Military Training became, in war, 
Chief General Staff Officer of the home defence force, 
there seemed to be no chance when war broke out of my 
going to France. At the last moment, however, Grierson, 
who had been originally nominated Chief of the General 



196 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Staff of the Expeditionary Force, was given the command 
of the Second Army Corps, and Murray, originally intended 
to be Quartermaster-General of the Force, was selected to 
succeed him. The appointment of Quartermaster- General 
thus became vacant and Douglas was good enough to give 
it to me. Within forty-eight hours I once again left the 
War Office, and joined the headquarters of the Expeditionary 
Force then mobilising at the Metropole Hotel in North- 
umberland Avenue. 



CHAPTER XIII 

QUARTERMASTER-GENERAL, BRITISH EXPEDITIONARY FORCE 
Organisation and duties of G.H.Q. — System of supply and maintenance- 



The I.G.C.— His duties are curtailed— The " Directors "—My Staff 
— Arrive at Paris with the Commander-in-Chief — Stay at the Hotel 
Crillon — Visit J off re at Vitry-le-Francois — Reach G.H.Q. at Le 
Cateau — Concentration of the Force — Various situations to be 
thought out — Discuss change of base with I.G.C. — Commander-in- 
Chief's conference before battle of Mons — The retreat from Mons — 
Replacement of clothing and equipment lost in the retreat — Con- 
fusion caused by change of base — Control of railways in French 
hands — Dif&culty of knowing where troops were — PUght of refugees 
— Willing spirit shown by all ranks to help each other — Despatch 
riders — G.H.Q. move successively to St. Quentin, Noyon, Com- 
pi^gne, Dammartin, Lagny, Melun — The move from Dammartin to 
Lagny — Force becomes part of Paris garrison under Gallieni — 
• Battle of the Mame — Brutalities of German troops — G.H.Q. at 
Coulommiers and F^re-en-Tardenois — Want of heavy artillery on 
the Aisne^ — Move round to Flanders — First battle of Ypres — State 
of trenches — Cross the Channel with Lord Roberts — His death at 
St. Omer — Succeed Murray as Chief of the General Staff at G.H.Q. 

The staff of an army, according to the British system, is 
composed of three branches — General Staff, Adjutant- 
General's Staff, and Quartermaster- General's Staff. The 
General Staff deals with training, operations, intelligence, 
and general military policy ; the Adjutant-General with 
recruiting, mobihsation, discipline, medical services, and 
the chaplains' department ; the Quartermaster-General 
with supplies and transport, and the issue of all military 
stores. Stated in a simpler form, the Adjutant-General 
recruits the men with which to fight, tends to their spiritual 
needs, tries them by court-martial when accused of breaking 
the regulations, takes care of them when sick or wounded, 
and buries them when they die. The Quartermaster-General 
clothes, arms, feeds, and houses them, and suppHes them 
with all they need with which to fight, viz. horses, motors, 

197 



198 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

lorries, bicycles, ammunition, guns, entrenching-tools, barbed 
wire, bombs, and a thousand other things. He also moves 
them, according to the direction of the General Staff, by 
rail and sea. The staffs of the Adjutant-General and Quarter- 
master-General thus put and maintain the army in the field 
ready for use by the General Staff, who arrange, according 
to the instructions of the Commander-in-Chief, all matters 
connected with the actual fighting. 

The welfare of the army and the success attending the 
operations largely depend upon the way in which the three 
branches work together and upon the personality of the 
Chief of the General Staff, who is the recognised head of 
the whole staff and the principal confidant and adviser of 
the Commander-in-Chief. The staff of the Expeditionary 
Force were fortunate in this respect, for Murray was a help- 
fiil colleague to do business with, and possessed a thorough 
knowledge of staff duties in general. The same may be 
said of the Adjutant -General, Sir Nevil Macready, with 
whom I worked from the commencement of the war until a 
few months before he became Commissioner of the Metro- 
politan Police in the summer of 1918. 

The system by which the immense volume of food, 
ammunition, clothing and other war material is conveyed 
to the troops may now be explained, and for the information 
of the non-military reader I may first observe that an 
" army " consists of two or more army corps ; an " army 
corps " of two or more divisions ; a " division *' of three or 
four infantry and artillery brigades respectively and certain 
other troops ; a " brigade " of infantry of three or four 
battalions, and a " brigade " of artillery of three or four 
batteries. 

When an expeditionary force is sent abroad, " bases " 
are established at selected oversea ports, and there large 
depots of food, stores, men, animals, etc., are formed, and 
from these the supplies are sent up by rail to a " regulating 
station.'* From this place trains, each carrying the right 
proportion of each kind of article required, are despatched 
to " railheads," i.e. the stations nearest to the front-line 
troops to which it is feasible to work the railway. Each 
railhead may serve one or more army corps according to 



SUPPLY AND MAINTENANCE 199 

circumstances, and at it the supplies are loaded on convoys 
of motor lorries called " supply columns." Each column 
then conveys the supplies of its division or other formation 
to which it belongs to previously selected rendezvous called 
" refiUing points/' where they are met at an appointed 
hour by horsed wagons of the " regimental train. '* These, 
having been loaded with their proper quota of supplies, 
carry them to the units to which they belong. The distances 
traversed by the supply columns may be as much as forty 
miles between railhead and refiUing point, and the horsed 
wagons may cover six or seven miles each way. Ammuni- 
tion and other stores are distributed from railheads in much 
the same manner as food, the ammunition convoy being 
known as the '* ammunition park." This explanation is 
very crude, but it will suffice to give a rough idea of the 
system in force at the commencement of the Great War. 

It will be understood that, owing to the movement of 
the troops or to interference by the enemy, changes of 
railheads and refilling points may have to be made at very 
short notice. These changes, unless properly and promptly 
notified, may dislocate the entire proceedings, and, in the 
case of a retreat, cause roads to become blocked with trans- 
port and so jeopardise the safety of the whole army. 

The arrangements for carrying out this delicate system 
were, according to the regulations, mainly vested in a 
General Ofiicer known as the "Inspector-General of Com- 
munications," or I.G.C., who occupied a position second in 
importance only to that of the Commander-in-Chief himself. 
His headquarters were at the base, distant perhaps a hundred 
miles or more from the front line, or at some place between 
the two. By the nature of his duties he was something 
Hke the managing directors of Harrods' Stores and Carter 
Paterson rolled into one, it being his business to see that 
ample stocks of food and war material were maintained at 
the bases, and thence conveyed, in the manner just described, 
in sufficient quantity and to such places at the front as 
directed by the Quartermaster-General in furtherance of 
the Commander-in-Chief's plans. It will thus be seen that 
the Quartermaster-General was not responsible for the actual 
performance of the duties enumerated at the beginning of 



200 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

this chapter, and only in a limited degree for prescribing 
the method of their execution. He was answerable for 
seeing that they were not left undone rather than for doing 
them. 

Before the war I was convinced that the system would 
not work in practice. Telegraphic communication between 
the front and the I.G.C, upon the efficiency of which every- 
thing hinged, was liable to be interrupted or blocked ; and 
in any case notification by him or to him regarding alteration 
of railheads or refilling points, consequent on a change in 
the tactical situation, was bound to be slow and uncertain. 
It followed from this that orders issued by the I.G.C. on 
these matters might well become impossible of execution 
hours before they left his office. They did so from the day 
fighting began, and with the approval of the Commander-in- 
Chief I swept away the regulations, and so far as the dis- 
tribution of food and ammunition was concerned the respon- 
sibility of the I.G.C. was made to end at the railheads, to 
be selected by me, the onward transport then becoming a 
matter for my staff and not for his. Later, his duties at 
the front were further restricted, and it was recognised that, 
instead of retaining the almost complete freedom of action 
assigned to him by the regulations, he must be guided by 
the instructions of the Quartermaster-General. This officer 
is the mouthpiece of the Commander-in-Chief for purposes 
of supply, and is much better placed for knowing his wishes 
than an I.G.C. can possibly be. Major-General Robb, who 
first held the post, and his successor, Major-General Maxwell, 
at once fell in with these views, and the change of system 
worked quite smoothly. 

As the army grew in strength, more decentralisation and 
elasticity had to be introduced, and it is not unlikely that 
the I.G.C. may disappear altogether from future regulations. 
If he does I shall think that we have gone too far in the 
opposite direction, and burdened General Headquarters, 
whose chief business is fighting, with work that can be done 
more suitably and economically by an organisation in rear. 

To complete this account of the method of supplying an 
army in the field I should add that under the Adjutant- 
General, Quartermaster- General, and I.G.C, respectively, 



SIR JOHN COWANS 201 

according to the duties to be performed, are the " Directors" 
of the different administrative services — e.g. medical, veter- 
inary, remounts, supply, transport, ordnance — who with 
their assistant directors, deputy assistant directors, and other 
officers are responsible for actually issuing to the troops 
what they require. These officers are not uncommonly 
regarded by the general public as belonging to the staff, 
but this is not the case. Their duties and status are quite 
different. The staff, properly so-called, are the assistants of 
the Commander-in-Chief, they may take action in his name, 
and they are the medium through which he communicates 
his orders ; the administrative officers are responsible, each 
in his own sphere, for making such administrative arrange- 
ments as will enable these orders to be carried out. 

The officers at first employed on the Quartermaster- 
General's staff were : Colonel Dawkins, Assistant Quarter- 
master- General, with Major Jebb of the Bedfordshire 
Regiment and Captain Percival of the army service corps 
as Deputy Assistant Quartermaster - Generals. Captain 
Woodroffe of the horse artillery was my aide-de-camp. I 
can never be too grateful to these four officers for the 
assistance they rendered, especially in the retreat from Mons, 
when the supply of the army was a matter of extraordinary 
difficulty. Day and night they toiled Hke slaves with never 
a thought for their own comfort or interest. I was also 
greatly assisted at this period, and in fact during the whole 
time I was Quartermaster- General, by Sir John Cowans, 
imder whose direction the initial arrangements for the 
maintenance of the army were made by the Quartermaster- 
General's department of the War Office. 

As soon as the troops began to cross the Channel I sent 
Dawkins off to France, with Jebb and Percival to help him, 
to arrange for the reception of the troops at the front and 
generally to get the department into working order. I 
remained behind in England with the Commander-in-Chief 
and the Chief of the General Staff, as it was necessary to 
keep in close touch with them and be ready to advise upon 
matters under my charge. 

We left London on the afternoon of the 14th August, 
crossed the Channel from Dover on H.M.'s Cruiser Sentinel, 



202 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

and reached Boulogne about 5.30 p.m. The streets seemed 
to be full of British soldiers waiting to be sent to the front, 
and a very cordial welcome was extended to them by our 
French allies. After visiting some of the rest camps, where 
we found the troops cheery and full of enthusiasm, we left 
at 7.20 P.M. for Amiens, the headquarters of our line of com- 
munication, and there spent the night. Next morning we 
proceeded to Paris, which was reached shortly after noon. 
The Commander-in-Chief and some of the staff stayed 
at the British Embassy, whilst I and some others put up at 
the Hotel CriUon, where the manager, M. D6cquis, placed 
the best rooms at our disposal, and gave us what I have 
always thought to be the best dinner I ever had. He 
produced an equally good English breakfast at five o'clock 
next morning, and when I asked him on leaving for the 
bill he rephed that he would send it to me at Berlin, and 
that for the present he would accept nothing, feeling only 
too pleased to have been of service to us. I went to Berlin 
after the war, but I have not yet received the bill. The 
incident was a standing joke between us on the many 
occasions I stayed at the Crillon when called to Paris on 
duty during the war, and I must add that M. Decquis never 
relaxed his efforts to make these visits as comfortable as 
the first one was. 

We left Paris by motor early on Sunday morning, i6th 
August, to see General Joffre at his headquarters at Vitry- 
le-Frangois. He was in excellent spirits and with much 
pride showed us a German standard which had been captured 
a day or two before in some small engagement on the southern 
flank. After we had taken lunch with him and his staff, 
and business had been concluded, we proceeded to Rheims, 
passed the night there, and next day joined our own head- 
quarters at Le Cateau, the offices of which were located in a 
large school in the centre of the town. 

I and the four officers of my staff were billeted in a 
small house close by, the owner being a kind-hearted old 
lady who occupied the adjoining house. Woodroffe quickly 
got our small mess into working order, and saw that nothing 
was lacking in the way of either food or drink. Our soldier- 
cook — stiU a dark horse — played up well, and was assisted 



THE BRITISH EXPEDITIONARY FORCE 203 

by the woman cook of our landlady, though by what means 
they were able to understand each other's language was a 
mystery. 

This dif&culty once led to a rather noisy altercation, 
which called for the intervention of Woodroffe. Hearing 
heated arguments taking place in the kitchen, in the most 
extraordinary mixture of French and EngHsh, he proceeded 
there to enquire what was the matter, and found the two 
cooks engaged in a tug of war at opposite sides of a frying- 
pan of potatoes which were to be cooked for breakfast. It 
transpired that the kitchen fire had refused to bum properly, 
and that the French cook was trying to explain to ours 
that she had a good fire next door and would take the 
potatoes there to cook, while our man was under the 
impression that she wished to appropriate them for herself, 
and he was determined not to let them go at any price. 
Woodroffe restored peace, and we got our potatoes by the 
required time. 

About a week later, when the German troops were 
nearing the town, I was able to repay the hospitality of 
our landlady by sending her off in a motor in the direction 
of Paris, as she had no other means of getting away. On 
passing through Le Cateau in 1919 I found that both her 
houses had been destroyed — like many others in the town. 

The British Expeditionary Force, composed of six 
divisions and a cavalry division, had a total strength of, 
roughly, 160,000 men, 60,000 horses, 490 guns, and 7000 
vehicles. That part of it sent out in the first instance 
numbered only about 100,000 men, and consisted of a 
cavalry division and two army corps each of two divisions. 
Of the remaining two divisions one did not begin to arrive 
till after the battle of Mons had been fought, and the other, 
for reasons unknown to me, did not reach us for several 
days later. Had there been less delay in our coming to 
a decision to join France more time would, of course, 
have been avaUable for the whole six to arrive, and had 
they been present at the battle the course of the war might 
have been different. 

The Force, as at first sent out, completed its concentra- 
tion just south of Maubeuge on the 20th August, and on 



204 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

the following day commenced to move forward. On the 
22nd it reached positions in the vicinity of Mons, its right 
being in touch with the left of the 5th French army near 
Thuin, south-west of Charleroi. It is interesting to recall 
that Mons was occupied by a detachment of Wellington's 
army at the beginning of Napoleon's last campaign about 
a hundred years earlier. 

Whilst G.H.Q. remained at Le Cateau I devoted all my 
spare time to visiting the areas through which the troops 
were moving. Some fifty per cent of the infantry was 
composed of reservists just called up, and as most of them 
were not in hard condition the blazing August sun and long 
stretches of white dusty roads made marching and the 
carrying of some 60 lbs. of kit and equipment a heavy 
burden. All the more reason, therefore, why the Quarter- 
master-General's staff should be active, and personally see 
to it that there was no shortage of food or water, that the 
billets and bivouacs were as good as could be found, and 
that the transport conveying the requirements of the troops 
should reach its destination in good time. It was my purpose 
to ensure that this was done. 

I had also to think out the different situations which 
my department might have to meet during the next few 
days. The strength and direction of the enemy's main 
advance had not yet been clearly disclosed, but the view 
held at French G.H.Q., as late as the 22nd August, was that 
the Germans were not sufficiently strong to secure them- 
selves against a determined attack in the Ardennes — for 
which General Joffre had made preparations — and at the 
same time launch a great attack against the Allied left. 
On the contrary, it was deemed possible for the British 
army and 5th French army to envelop the German right, 
and it was in pursuance of this plan that the British army 
marched to Mons. But there was no certainty that the 
French view would prove to be right. The enemy was well 
known to have an intense craving for enveloping methods, 
and there were rumours that he had larger forces north of 
the Meuse than the French seemed to think, and if, instead 
of our enveloping his right, he should succeed in envelop- 
ing our left our line of communication would be seriously 



(( 



BE PREPARED " 205 



endangered, and we might in consequence be compelled to 
abandon our sea-bases at Havre and Boulogne and establish 
others further to the south. Moreover, I knew before 
leaving England that Lord Kitchener was of opinion that 
we were concentrating too far forward, and events since then 
tended to show that he was right. 

Be these things as they might it was my business to be 
prepared for the worst that might happen as well as for the 
best. He is merely a fool who, holding a high position in 
war, refuses to contemplate anything but success. " J'ai 
rhabitude," said Napoleon, *' de penser trois ou quatre mois 
d'avance a ce que je dois faire, et je calcule sur le pire." 
Confidence is an essential element in war, and in public 
should always be seen on the faces of all leaders and staff 
officers, while any who are not endowed with a reasonable 
sense of humour should make room for others who are. 

But confidence and cheeriness do not mean that one 
should be cocksure of everything going as one would wish, 
especially at the beginning of a war when the unexpected 
is so apt to be the rule. It was necessary that the Quarter- 
master-General's staff should examine the situation from 
every point of view, and introduce such elasticity into the 
supply arrangements as would promptly afford the Com- 
mander-in-Chief the greatest possible choice of action. In 
short, it should be prepared to meet any and every reasonable 
contingency, for no matter how skilful the plans of the 
Commander-in-Chief might be, they would almost certainly 
fail in execution if the troops were not properly fed and 
quartered, and kept supplied with ammunition. Assuming 
that the Allies' plan of operations proved successful, these 
demands could be met with comparative ease ; but on the 
other hand it might be very difficult to meet them if, in 
spite of the confidence which prevailed, we were opposed 
by very superior numbers and compelled to fall back from 
the positions taken up. 

I therefore decided to summon the I.G.C., Major-General 
Robb, to G.H.Q. and discuss possible developments with 
him, as it was essential that there should be a clear under- 
standing between us as to what it might become necessary 
to do. He arrived on the 22nd August — the day before the 



2o6 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

battle of Mons — and before he left we had settled the main 
principles upon which we would act in the event of the sea- 
bases having to be replaced by others. On return to his 
headquarters at Amiens he made such preliminary arrange- 
ments as he could for effecting the change. 

There are not many other instances in miHtary history 
I imagine, if any, of measures having been taken before the 
first battle of a campaign to change the base of an army 
which has been deUberately selected after long and careful 
consideration. It was fortunate that they were taken on 
this occasion, for within a week the German advance had 
progressed to such a point that the Commander-in-Chief 
gave me orders to change the bases to St. Nazaire, with an 
advanced base at Le Mans. Amiens, the advanced base, 
had then already been evacuated by us, and the Germans 
occupied it on the 31st August. This change of base to the 
Loire, at a very critical period, was a striking example of 
the value of sea-power, and of itself was a sufficient return 
for the money we had expended in maintaining our naval 
supremacy. 

At 5 A.M. on Sunday the 23rd August the Commander- 
in-Chief, accompanied by the heads of his staff, met the 
commanders of the I. and II. Corps and Cavalry Division 
at Sars-la-Bruyere, a few miles south of Mons, to explain 
the situation. From information received from French 
G.H.Q. he understood that little more than one, or at the 
most two, of the enemy's army corps, with perhaps one 
cavalry division, were in front of our positions, and he was 
aware of no out-fianking movement by the enemy. There 
were, as a matter of fact, four army corps and three cavalry 
divisions, or about 160,000 combatants, within striking 
distance of the British army of less than half that fighting 
strength, and at 10.30 a.m. our first battle in the Great War 
opened in earnest. 

The subsequent retreat from Mons, which terminated 
south of the Mame on the 3rd September, will for all time 
be regarded as one of the finest performances of the British 
army. Hopelessly outnumbered from the start, and fight- 
ing on a length of front far exceeding their powers to 
hold, there was no way by which our troops could avoid 



THE RETREAT FROM MONS 207 

retreat, and by all the rules of war they ought to have 
suffered not only defeat but annihilation. They would 
admit neither, rules of war notwithstanding. Composed of 
the finest British personnel, well-trained, excellent shots, 
and led by that incomparable commander the British 
regimental officer, they time and again turned on the 
pursuing enemy and made him pay a heavy price for his 
boastful claim to invincibility. Bruised, battered, and 
sometimes beaten to their knees, they were never beaten 
in spirit, and even in the darkest hour it never seemed to 
cross their minds that they were or could be beaten. They 
knew they were being forced back by an enemy far stronger 
numerically than themselves ; they were sometimes hungry, 
often thirsty, and many were too tired to keep awake even 
when marching ; but they continued to fight grimly on with 
a determination which has never been surpassed and never 
will be. Officers and men of the regular army, as we knew 
them in those days, were seen at their best, and it is an 
unforgettable privilege to have been associated with them. 
By the time the vicinity of Le Cateau was reached the 
4th Division (the fifth in number to be despatched from 
home) began to come up and suppHed a welcome reinforce- 
ment, but it was far from being sufficient effectively to 
arrest the onward march of the enemy's masses. 

Since the war ended we have been asked to believe that 
the Allies owe their victory to the foresight and energy 
of some pohtical leader or other, to the employment of 
certain mechanical contrivances, to the enormous output 
of munitions, to unity of command, to the rottenness of 
autocratic government, and so on, according to the taste 
or interest of those who expressed or inspired these state- 
ments. Perhaps the statements were not meant to be taken 
literally, for no man of sense would attribute our victory 
to any one cause, especially as all classes combined so 
loyally to seciure it. Still, they were rather frequently made, 
and therefore it is well to remind ourselves occasionally of 
the endurance and heroism displayed by the fighting men, 
notably in the retreat from Mons, in the three battles of 
Ypres, on the Somme, and in the desperate struggles 
of 19 18. I sometimes think that the French set us an 



2o8 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

example in this respect, for they invariably award chief 
credit for success to their armies alone, and are careful not 
to detract from it by the advancement of other claims. It 
is significant of their point of view that at the official dinner 
at the Elys^e on the day of the victory march through 
Paris in 19 19, to which I had the honour of being invited, 
some ten or twelve non-commissioned officers and men were 
included among the himdred and twenty guests present. 

In the retreat a large amount of clothing (caps, jackets, 
great-coats, etc.), and equipment (shovels, rifles, vaHses, 
wagons, gims, machine-guns, etc.), were either lost, 
captured, or thrown away because they could not be carried, 
and it was my duty to see that they were immediately 
replaced. The ordnance regulations were of the most 
stringent red-tape description, and before stores were 
allowed to be issued commanding officers had to render, 
sometimes in triplicate, elaborate " army forms ** setting out 
their demands and giving fuU reasons for them. It was 
absurd to suppose that this procedure could be adhered to 
when the troops were constantly at close grips with a 
pursuing enemy ; when the wretched forms, with all other 
army stationery, had, perhaps, been left behind or thrown 
away ; and when the commanding officers, killed, wounded, 
taken prisoner, or for some other reason could not readily 
be found. There was no authority at all, to the best 
of my memory, for the free issue of clothing to officers. 
They were expected to get it, I imagine, as in peace, 
from Savile Row or other places inhabited by the mihtary 
tailors of London. 

The senior ordnance officer at G.H.Q. was at first terribly 
perplexed to know what to do, for, owing to the strict 
ffiiancial control exercised over the smallest details, and 
which had its origin in the Treasury, his professional capacity 
was mainly estimated by the way in which he kept his 
accounts, and produced innumerable " vouchers " for the 
action he took. He must often have thought me most 
irrational and unsympathetic, for I would listen to nothing 
about his regulations so long as officers and men were going 
about bareheaded for want of a cap, or had their backs 
exposed to drenching rain for lack of a coat. I insisted that 



THE SEA-BASES 209 

the missing articles must be replaced at once, whatever 
the regulations might or might not be, and said that the 
entire responsibility would be mine if he got into trouble. 
The officer in question, Colonel (now Major-General Sir 
Charles) Mathew, played up well, and the army owed him 
much for the efforts he made to replenish it with the thousand 
and one things included in the term " ordnance stores " of 
which it was short. 

The matter was further complicated because the sea- 
bases, from which the different articles had to be obtained, 
were, as already stated, in process of being moved from 
Havre and Boulogne to St. Nazaire. Even when the move 
had been completed, many days, and in some cases weeks, 
elapsed before the required articles became available. In the 
hurry and confusion attending evacuation of the original 
bases, the ships had been loaded on no system except that of 
getting out of the place as rapidly as possible, the Germans 
then being at Amiens and their advance parties pushed 
forward in the direction of Rouen. Different kinds of stores 
were inextricably mixed ; machine-guns were on one ship 
and their tripods on another, while the articles wanted first 
were, as often as not, at the bottom of the ship, below sacks 
of oats and bales of hay, and therefore were the last that 
could be got out. Moreover, the estabUshment of a new 
base, even at a good port, is a matter which demands con- 
siderable time and previous preparation, and in many 
respects St. Nazaire happened to be particularly inconvenient 
and deficient of the facilities required. 

Another factor which militated against the prompt 
supply of food and stores was that we did not control the 
railways we used, and could not expect to do so. Trains 
were allotted to us daily by the French authorities, they 
were necessarily restricted in number, and the time and 
place of their arrival were very uncertain, as in the circum- 
stances they were bound to be. The trouble was aggravated 
when they could no longer pass through Amiens and had to 
proceed to the front via Paris, for besides the exodus of 
people from that city which was then taking place, Joffre 
was transferring masses of troops from his right to his left, 
and for these and other reasons there was a widespread 

p 



210 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

congestion and dislocation of all railway traffic. I found 
that the only sure way of getting trains up by the time they 
were wanted was to send the indefatigable Percival down 
to Paris by motor, and for him to board the train and compel 
the station-master to send it forward. Many a time he did 
this, and was instrumental in producing food for the troops 
which but for his efforts they would not have received. 

The distribution of supplies after they reached railheads 
was another difficulty, as the ever-changing situation and 
frequent interruption of communication made it impossible 
to know where particular units might be at any given time. 
I could only guess as to the place where they might be, 
send their food to it, and a further supply to other probable 
places, in the hope that if the first consignment did not 
reach them the second would. The expedient was also 
adopted of dumping supplies — flitches of bacon, sides of 
beef, cheese, boxes of biscuits — alongside the roads so that 
the troops might help themselves as they passed. Much of 
the food thus deposited had to be left where it was put, 
either because it was not found in the darkness, or from 
want of time to use it or of means to carry it away, but 
on the whole the object of ensuring that plenty of food 
should be obtainable when and where wanted was fairly 
well achieved. CompUance with routine regulations, and 
the extra expense incurred by issuing double or treble the 
normal allowance of rations, were not considerations to be 
taken into account. 

Distribution was fm^ther hampered by the endless stream 
of refugees fleeing before the advancing enemy, and it was 
not until steps had been taken to shepherd them into batches, 
under proper supervision, that either troops or transport 
could move along the roads with some semblance of regu- 
larity. The flight of these fugitives was a strange mixture 
of tragedy and comedy. All the men were old or very 
young ; the children, some laughing, some cr5dng, went 
by in droves ; and tired mothers, carrying their infants 
on their backs, crawled along the hot and dusty roads 
with fear and despair depicted on their terror-stricken 
faces. Two, three, and even four generations of a family 
could sometimes be seen making their way together to the 



DESPATCH RIDERS 211 

rear, some on foot, others riding in farm-carts, donkey- 
carts, ox-wagons, on bicycles, in perambulators, according 
to age and circumstances, whilst the household effects and 
farm stock with which they were accompanied were of the 
most varied description. Cows, sheep, goats, pigs, fowls, 
geese, ducks, cats, and dogs, carried or driven, were amongst 
the number, and vehicles of every kind, from a wagon to 
a wheelbarrow, were brought into use and laden with 
every imaginable article from beds to bird-cages. As if to 
intensify the distress and misery of the scene, the distant 
sky was black with smoke rising in dense clouds from 
the burning villages which had been set on fire either 
deliberately or by the enemy's shells, these same villages 
having been but a few hours before and for many years 
previously the homes of those who were now fleeing from 
them, knowing and caring not where, so long as they were 
safe from the Hun. 

Having said so much about the difficulties to be over- 
come, I ought to add that my duties, like those of all other 
senior officers, were greatly hghtened by the splendid manner 
in which all ranks, forgetful of self, were animated by the 
sole desire to help each other. In numberless ways the 
retreat brought out, and in quarters where least expected, 
the best qualities of man, and showed how much good there 
is even in what appear to be the most forbidding and un- 
responsive natures. 

I have already mentioned the assistance rendered by the 
members of my staff, and I was equally indebted to the 
administrative officers who worked with me, especially to 
Colonels Gilpin, King, and Ford, and Major Crof ton- Atkins 
of the army service corps, who superintended the transport 
and food arrangements. The despatch riders, too, per- 
formed invaluable service in carr5Hiig messages to and from 
the troops and the various supply and ammunition columns. 
The work of a despatch rider at the time was very different 
from what it was after trench warfare set in. Headquarters 
of brigades and divisions were constantly moving from one 
place to another, and the despatch rider had to find them 
— in a strange country and perhaps at night — as best he 
could. As often as not he would arrive near the place 



212 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

where he had hoped or guessed they would be, only to 
discover that it was occupied by the enemy. Most of our 
despatch riders were boys under twenty years of age who 
had joined on the outbreak of war, many of them from 
the universities, and the manner in which they carried out 
their duties in the face of great hardships and dangers 
confirmed me in the opinion that the Enghsh boy has 
no superior. I am prepared to go further and say that 
he has no equal. 

During the retreat G.H.Q. moved successively to St. 
Quentin, Noyon, Compiegne, Dammartin, Lagny, and Melun. 
Dammartin is only fifteen miles from Paris, and on our 
arrival there the Force became for the time being a part of 
the Paris garrison commanded by General GaUieni. This 
was not a pleasant duty to contemplate — the defence of the 
French capital — and had an ominous look about it. Luckily 
it did not last long. 

As can be imagined our personal feeding arrangements 
were rather sketchy and uncertain during the hurry of the 
retreat, but at Dammartin we hoped for better things and 
were looking forward to the enjoyment of a roast leg of 
mutton for dinner. Suddenly, however, the order was given 
to move to Lagny, and as it was then seven o'clock we had 
to go off without any dinner at all, the leg of mutton, just 
ready for eating, being packed up in a newspaper and 
taken away on the floor of a motor lorry. It was none the 
worse next day, except for being cold. 

On this occasion Dawkins and I travelled together, and 
as we were inside the Paris perimeter and the night was 
dark, we had rather an exciting journey. German officers, 
disguised as English staff officers, were reported to be going 
about in motors within the lines, and the French Territorial 
troops on picquet, of whom we encountered several, were 
menacingly inquisitive as to who we were, addressing their 
enquiries over the sights of their rifles or at the point of the 
bayonet. 

At last we reached Lagny, about midnight, and as it was 
impossible to secure a billet at that hour we tried to persuade 
the proprietor of a small caf^ to make us an omelette by 
way of dinner, preparatory to passing the night in the car. 



THE BATTLE OF THE MARNE 213 

Whilst discussing the omelette, which there seemed Httle 
prospect of our getting, a woman entered the cafe and offered 
us the use of two rooms in her house close by, and after- 
wards gave us supper. Next morning she cooked us an 
excellent breakfast, and I later discovered that in order 
to accommodate us she and her husband had sat up all night. 
This is the sort of kindness that really counts, and on the 
first opportimity I intend to revisit Lagny and, if I can 
find them, once more thank my host and hostess for their 
hospitality. At Melun we were equally well treated, the 
owner of the house at which we stayed placing everything 
he had at our disposal. 

The advance from the Marne to the Aisne, immediately 
after a retreat of 170 miles before a numerically superior 
enemy flushed with success, is no less a glorious page in 
the history of the British army than that of the retreat 
itself. The battle of the Marne, as it is called, or Joffre's 
great counter-stroke which changed the whole course of the 
campaign, commenced on the 6th of September and con- 
tinued, so far as we were concerned, till the loth of September. 
G.H.Q. meanwhile moved first to Coulommiers and then 
to Fere-en-Tardenois. 

In passing through the country from which the Germans 
had just been expelled, it was interesting to compare the 
behaviour of their troops in retreat — the severest test which 
war can bring — with that of our own men in similar circum- 
stances, and there is no doubt that our type of disciphne, 
based chiefly upon good relations between officers and men, 
stood the test far better than the boasted iron discipline of 
the German army. Everywhere was wanton and wicked 
destruction — shops gutted, fields and streets Uttered with 
empty wine-bottles, household goods deliberately destroyed, 
and filthy deeds committed too abominable to mention. 
Some of the troops, perhaps many, had behaved well, accord- 
ing to what we heard, but others were accused of the most 
brutal acts. How thankful England should be that she was 
spared from the unspeakable miseries and horrors of invasion ! 

Shortly after our arrival on the Aisne the enemy brought 
up more heavy artillery from Maubeuge, which had just 
fallen, and the period of trench warfare destined to last for 



214 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

nearly four years set in. With it arose demands for heavy 
artillery on our side, more gun ammunition, more machine- 
guns, bombs, barbed wire, and other artillery and engineer- 
ing stores, none of which could be even approximately met, 
so defective had been our war preparations. When first 
sent out, the Expeditionary Force had, as already mentioned, 
only two machine-guns per battalion or about a hundred 
and fifty in all, while of the 490 pieces of artillery twenty- 
four only were of " medium " type, the remainder being the 
ordinary " hght '* field-guns or field- howitzers. There was 
no " heavy " artillery. These twenty-four medium gims were 
supplemented on the Aisne by sixteen 6-inch howitzers of an 
inferior kind, and some rather old guns of 4.7-inch calibre. 
How utterly insufficient these numbers were, can be under- 
stood when I say that on Armistice Day we had in France 
alone well over 40,000 machine-guns and close on 6500 
guns and howitzers, of which over 2200 were of medium and 
heavy cahbre. 

As regards artillery ammunition, no one, either before 
the war or in the early part of it, dreamt that the demand 
would reach the colossal figure it eventually did reach. At 
any rate no adequate provision was made by the responsible 
authorities to meet it, and to the best of my memory we 
began the war with a reserve of considerably less than a 
million rounds, whereas at one time during the war we 
had in France alone a reserve of twenty milUon rounds, to 
say nothing of other theatres and the enormous stocks in 
England. It was the same story with respect to the special 
requirements of trench warfare, although the Russo-Japanese 
war had furnished much valuable guidance in the matter. 
Hand grenades, for instance, or bombs, were practically non- 
existent before the war, and at first had to be improvised 
by filling jam-tins and similar receptacles with the necessary 
explosives. The number of bombs expended during the 
war must have run into scores of millions, and a reserve of 
five or six millions at the front was quite an ordinary 
number. 

To cope with the ever-increasing duties of my department 
sanction was given while we were on the Aisne for an addi- 
tional Assistant Quartermaster-General and one Deputy 



FROM THE AISNE TO FLANDERS 215 

Assistant Quartermaster-General. The former appointment 
was filled by Colonel Lynden Bell, and the latter by my 
aide-de-camp, Woodroffe, his place being taken by Captain 
Lucas, another Horse Gunner. 

On the 3rd of October the British army commenced to 
move round to Flanders so as to frustrate the enemy's 
attempt to reach the Channel ports. The cavalry went by 
road and the divisions by rail, the arrangements for the 
journey devolving on the staff of the Quartermaster-General. 
It was desired, as in all such cases, to detrain as near to the 
enemy as possible so as to avoid unnecessary marching, and 
sufficiently far away from him that the operation could be 
completed without interruption. His cavalry was appar- 
ently being pushed well forward in the direction of the 
ports, and as only vague information was forthcoming as 
to what was behind it, the detraining stations had to be 
decided upon, in consultation with the General Staff, whilst 
the transfer was taking place. For example, one division 
was at first sent to Boulogne, and afterwards ordered to 
detrain much farther east. It will be understood that this 
uncertainty not only caused inconvenience and discom- 
fort to the troops, but rendered future arrangements for 
their supply difficult to make. As the war went on and 
experience was gained, the transfer of masses of men from 
one part of the line to another became a comparatively 
easy matter, but seeing that the transfer from the Aisne 
to Flanders was the first to be undertaken, and that the 
enemy was not stationary but on the move, the troops 
may be credited with having accompHshed a fairly good 
performance. 

G.H.Q. reached Abbeville on the 8th of October and 
shortly afterwards moved to St. Omer, where they remained 
for many months. About this time the 7th Division and 
some of the other troops which had been sent to assist the 
Belgians in saving Antwerp were absorbed in the Expedi- 
tionary Force, having previously been controlled by the 
authorities in London. It took us some days properly to 
get hold of these contingents, find out where they were, 
who they were, and what they had got with them. They 
had been hurriedly put together in the first instance, both 



2i6 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Admiralty and War Office taking a hand, and as they had 
had a trying time since disembarkation many confused 
matters connected with them had to be adjusted. For 
example, some of the mechanical transport drivers had 
been engaged by the Admiralty at a much higher rate of 
pay than that given to those engaged by the War Office, 
and obviously we could not pay different rates to different 
men for doing the same army work. I think we settled 
the question by giving the Admiralty men the choice between 
voluntarily joining the army and going home. On another 
occasion I was asked to sanction the payment of £1700 
which had been expended by a naval officer in mounting 
certain guns on railway trucks. On asking for further 
details regarding the ownership of the trucks and the 
origin of the guns, I was told that the trucks had been 
" taken " and the guns " found.'' 

Hard fighting commenced as soon as we arrived in 
Flanders, and it became a near thing which side would 
win ; but despite the shortage of artillery, machine-guns, 
ammunition, and reinforcements, and the overwhelming 
numerical superiority of the enemy, who poured in corps 
after corps at Ypres, hoping to finish off our attenuated 
army once and for aU, the matchless pluck of the British 
soldier won the day. 

As a theatre of war Flanders has always had an evil 
reputation, and it never deserved it more than in the winter 
of 1914-15. The desperate fighting of the first battle of 
Ypres had barely been concluded when the troops were 
called upon to face the most atrocious weather, long periods 
of continuous rain alternating with gales of wind, snow and 
frost, and although every measure that could be suggested 
was taken to compete with these conditions, it was impossible 
to keep the water-logged trenches either dry or in a reason- 
able state of repair. The men often had to stand waist- 
high in bitterly cold water ; the communications between 
the first-line trenches and the rear were as bad as they 
could be ; and the sufferings endured were almost, if not 
quite, without parallel. Life in the trenches came all the 
harder because the troops were new to the work, many 
being fresh from the tropics, and some twenty thousand 



LORD ROBERTS'S DEATH 217 

men were invalided during the winter on account of " trench 
feet " alone. 

To make matters worse, the Germans had the advantage 
of higher, drier, and generally much more favourable ground, 
from which they looked down into our miserable, muddy 
lines, and were able to bombard them, with their superior 
artillery, in a manner that would have broken the hearts of 
any ordinary troops. To this treatment we could give no 
adequate reply owing to the lack of heavy artillery and of 
ammunition for such guns as we had. I remember that at 
one time I had, with the Commander-in-Chief's approval, 
to issue orders restricting the expenditure to two rounds per 
gun a day, so depleted were our stocks and precarious our 
prospects of replenishing them. I claim to have as good a 
knowledge as any one of the British soldier, but to this day 
it is a marvel to me how he continued to hold on during 
that first terrible winter in Flanders. 

By the end of 19 14 the Expeditionary Force had reached 
a strength of five cavalry divisions and eleven infantry 
divisions, of which two in each case were Anglo-Indian. In 
addition a considerable number of Territorial battahons and 
Yeomanry regiments had been sent out from home. The 
New Armies were in course of formation and training, and 
were not yet ready to be put in the field. 

Early in November the Commander-in-Chief sent me to 
England to represent to the War Ofi&ce the urgency of the 
ammunition position, and to press for an increased supply. 
On return to France Lord Roberts crossed the Channel on 
the same boat as myself, and we had a long conversation 
on the war and our neglect to prepare for it. Notwith- 
standing his great age, his clear mihtary instinct was as 
prominent as ever, but it occurred to me that for a man 
of his years he was trying himself too highly in attempt- 
ing the journey, and this unfortunately proved to be 
the case. He arrived at St. Omer on the nth November, 
was suddenly taken ill on the 13th, and died at 8 p.m. on 
the following day. Previous to the despatch of his body to 
England a short, simple service was held at the Mairie on 
the 17th, at which I had the mournful honour of being one 
of the paU-bearers. Contingents of British, Indian, and 



2i8 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

French troops, and many foreign officers attended to do 
homage to the veteran Field-Marshal, and as the body left 
the Mairie on its homeward journey, the day being gloomy 
and dispiriting, the sun burst forth and threw a briUiant 
rainbow over the town, thus making a fitting termination to 
one of the most impressive ceremonies I have ever witnessed. 

In January 1915 the Commander-in-Chief asked me to 
become Chief of the General Staff in place of Murray, who 
was about to return to England. The offer was a tempting 
one, as it meant an increase of pay as weU as of position, but 
I did not wish to accept it. I had become interested in my 
work, I knew that the Commander-in-Chief had previously 
asked for another officer to succeed Murray, which was 
sufficient proof that I was not his first choice, and although 
he had appeared quite satisfied with me as Quartermaster- 
General, there was no certainty that either of us would be 
equally happy if I became his Chief of the General Staff. 
I therefore asked to be allowed to stay where I was, and 
after further discussion a final decision was, by my request, 
deferred for a day or two. In the end I reahsed that it 
was my duty to put personal considerations aside, and on 
the 25th of January I took up the new post, being succeeded 
as Quartermaster-General by Major-General Maxwell. 

I was extremely sorry to separate from my old staff, who 
had served me so loyally during a time of stress and anxiety, 
and I would pay a special tribute to my friend Dawkins, 
now dead. He had a high sense of duty, not a crooked 
element in his character, great capacity for work, and was 
beloved by all of us. " The Deputy," as he was famiharly 
called, had a bad habit of sitting up late at night to work 
or read the newspapers, of which neither my reproof nor 
the chaff of the other officers could cure him. In honour 
of the season, and to the amusement of the mess, I gave 
him permission on Christmas night to sit up for an hour 
later than he usually did ! 



CHAPTER XIV 

CHIEF OF THE GENERAL STAFF, BRITISH EXPEDITIONARY FORCE 

Duties — Arrangements for training- — Reorganisation of the General Staff 
— My principal assistants — ^Signal communications — Flying Corps 
— Life at G.H.Q. — Relations with units at the front — Liaison 
officers — Situation on West Front at beginning of 191 5 — Position of 
British Commander-in-Chief — Results of unreadiness for war — 
Uncertainty as to reinforcements and war material — Neuve Chapelle 
— Second battle of Ypres — Withdrawal from part of the salient — 
Festubert — Loos — AUies short of war material — Joffre's first con- 
ference of Allied Representatives — My views on the general situation 
and conduct of the war — Decide to send them to the C.I.G.S. at the 
War Office — He forwards them to the Cabinet — Lord Kitchener 
asks me to become C.I.G.S. — I send him my views as to the status 
and duties of the General Staff — He cannot agree with some of them 
and proposes to resign — Meet him at Calais and discuss his objections 
— They are satisfactorily removed — I leave G.H.Q. for the War 
Office. 

In my new capacity I became, according to official phraseo- 
logy, the Commander-in-Chief's " responsible adviser on all 
matters affecting mihtary operations, through whom he 
exercises his functions of command, and by whom all orders 
issued by him will be signed." The regulations further laid 
down that the General Staff duties comprised the study of 
proposed operations ; framing, issue, and despatch of opera- 
tion orders ; plans for movements to the points of con- 
centration ; measures of security ; inter-communication ; 
reconnaissances ; provision and distribution of maps ; and 
the supply of information to the Adjutant-General and 
Quartermaster-General regarding the situation and the 
probable requirements of the troops. 

There was much more than this to be done, and as a 
first step I obtained the Commander-in-Chief's consent to 
make certain changes in the personnel and organisation of 
the General Staff itself. Of the two branches into which it 

219 



220 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

was divided, Operations and Intelligence, the former was 
inclined to regard the latter as its own particular hand- 
maid — which was wrong — and it also included a small sub- 
section known as " O (6)," which had been designed mainly 
to conduct telegraphic correspondence with formations 
at the front. In this way the whole of the work had a 
tendency to filter through the Operations branch to the 
sub-chief, from him to the Chief of the General Staff, and 
then to the Commander-in-Chief. Bottle-necks are notorious 
for making nothing and obstructing everything, and this 
one was the more objectionable because of the increasing 
amount of work to be done. The Expeditionary Force upon 
which the existing system had been based was already 
double its original strength, many more divisions would 
shortly arrive, and therefore it was necessary that greater 
decentrahsation of staff work should be initiated. 

Moreover, units, large and small, were coming out from 
home indifferently trained in their common mihtary duties, 
and knowing next to nothing about the conditions attaching 
to trench warfare. The war of trenches had brought up new 
problems for which our accepted methods of instruction 
made httle provision, and the New Armies, as well as the 
drafts, were still being trained on much the same lines as 
the old regular army had been. It was essential to set up 
machinery for giving these new arrivals the requisite addi- 
tional training before they went into the trenches, the 
machinery to include schools of instruction manned by 
officers and non-commissioned officers who were specialists 
in their business ; to make similar arrangements for the 
training of drafts at the bases ; bring formations at the 
front in closer relation with these drafts and cause them to 
take a greater interest in them ; and inaugurate systematic 
instruction for regimental officers and non-commissioned 
officers, whose professional standard had fallen to a low 
level owing to the number of casualties we had suffered. 

Lastly, special means had to be provided for dealing 
with questions regarding new units such as mining com- 
panies, new inventions such as trench-mortars, and a host of 
others relating to new methods of making war in general 
and trench war in particular. 



SIR FREDERICK MAURICE 221 

I decided to form three separate branches, Operations, 
IntelHgence, and General Staff duties {i.e. training and all 
other duties not included in the two first-named branches). 
In the Operations branch was one officer charged solely 
with keeping the artillery ammunition account, and with 
advising me how we could best use the small amounts then 
being received. Every single round had to be jealously 
guarded, for consignments of ammunition did not then 
come out as later in the war by hundreds of tons at a 
time in special ships and barges, but in driblets of thirty 
or forty rounds, much in the same way as if despatched by 
parcel post. 

The head of each branch was made responsible to me per- 
sonally, all three being expected to keep in touch with each 
other and not to shut themselves up in water-tight com- 
partments. Colonel (now Major-General) E. Perceval took 
charge, as sub-chief of the General Staff, of Staff duties, 
and acted for me in my temporary absence ; Colonel (now 
Major-General Sir) F. Maurice became head of the Operations 
branch, and Colonel (now Lieutenant-General Sir) G. 
Macdonogh remained as head of the Intelligence. 

Perceval, as mentioned in a previous chapter, had served 
under me at the Staff College, and his professional knowledge 
and untiring energy were as valuable to me in France as 
they had been at Camberley. He was given command of 
a division in July 1915, being succeeded as sub-chief by 
Colonel (now Major-General Sir) R. Whigham, another of 
my Staff College assistants. Maurice, who had also been 
with me at the Staff CoUege, was, Hke his father the late 
Sir Frederick Maurice, possessed of quite exceptional talents. 
He was particularly well read in mihtary history, had a 
thorough grasp of the principles of strategy and tactics, and, 
what was more to the point, held sound views regarding 
their practical appHcation. He could express himself 
temperately and clearly both verbally and on paper, and he 
devoted every spare minute of the day and night to thinking 
out how best to beat the formidable enemy in front of us. 
There was, I may remind the reader, a great deal of thinking 
of this nature to be done at the time, for not much daylight 
was yet visible. 



222 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Most of the junior officers in the three branches had 
been trained under me at the Staff College, and were as 
capable and loyal a body of assistants as any man could 
wish to have. They included, at different times, Radcliffe, 
Bartholomew, Montgomery, and Tandy (artillery), Hutchison 
(cavalry), Elles and Cox (engineers), Deedes (infantry), and 
Wigram (Indian army). 

Being a believer in having small messes on service, the 
only members of the one I formed were the sub-chief, 
Maurice, and my two aides-de-camp — Lucas and Montagu 
Stopford, the son of Lionel Stopford, one of my contem- 
poraries when a student at the Staff College. My pre- 
decessor had hved with the Commander-in-Chief and had 
no separate mess of his own, and although this arrangement 
had its advantages it also had its drawbacks. The General 
Staff office and the principal General Staff officers were 
always liable to be located some distance away from the 
quarters of the Commander-in-Chief, and it seemed best 
that I should be near them. Moreover, it is just as well 
that the Commander-in-Chief and the Chief of his Staff 
should occasionally have a close time of their own, for, 
unless they possess more angeUc tempers than ordinary 
mortals can hope to have, the constant mental strain to 
which they are subjected by the stress of war may cause 
them to get on each other's nerves. If that happens there 
will be trouble, and the effect of it may be felt by the whole 
army. 

Outside the General Staff, and omitting my two helpful 
colleagues the Adjutant-General and Quartermaster-General, 
the senior officers upon whom I had chiefly to rely for 
assistance were Du Cane the Artillery Adviser, Fowke the 
Engineer-in-Chief, and Fowler the Director of the Signal 
Service. The nature and amount of guns and ammunition 
we required, the best use to make of such material as we 
had and hoped to have in the future, and the most suitable 
system of artillery organisation in general, were all questions 
regarding which much difference of opinion still existed at 
the beginning of 1915, and it was largely owing to Du Cane's 
judgment and foresight that the right course was steered 
and the foundations of our artillery supremacy were cor- 



THE SIGNAL SERVICE 223 

rectly laid. He was afterwards employed in the Ministry 
of Munitions for the greater part of 1916 ; he then com- 
manded an army corps on the West Front for about one 
and a half years, and was the senior British military repre- 
sentative at the headquarters of the allied armies from 
April to November 1918. 

Fowke had to deal with and advise on matters con- 
nected with trench warfare, the supply of engineering 
material, and new methods of solving the most difficult 
problems with which the Royal Engineers had ever been 
confronted. He became Adjutant-General in France in 
February 1916, and continued to hold that post until the 
end of the war. 

Fowler was in charge of the Signal Service from the first 
day of the war until the last, and superintended its expansion 
from a strength of about 1600 in 1914 to one of over 70,000 
in 1918. I had first met him twenty years before when 
travelling through Kashmir ; he had served on my staff at 
the Staff College ; and in pre-war days we had often taken 
part together in staff tours designed to afford instruction 
in the working of signal communications with an army in 
the field. During the retreat from Mons he had accom- 
plished marvels in keeping up connection between G.H.Q, 
and the troops, and he was indispensable to me whilst I was 
Chief of the General Staff in 1915. 

In Chapter X. I have described the original formation 
of " Communication Companies.** These had later become 
the " Signal Service'* ; and for the benefit of those who are 
unacquainted with the duties of this service I may say that 
upon the efficiency with which they are performed the 
power of a commander to handle his troops greatly depends. 
Just as in a human body the nerves convey the information 
obtained by the senses to the brain, and the orders from 
the brain to the muscles, so the signal communications of 
an army convey the information obtained from all sources 
to the commander, and orders from the commander to his 
troops. Loss of efficiency or sluggishness of the nerves 
results in partial paralysis of the body, and a corresponding 
paralysis of the army results from the failure of its signal 
communications. 



224 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

The maintenance of communication on the West Front, 
particularly in the forward area, was very difficult owing 
to the heavy shell-fire, mud, and exposure which were 
experienced, and as no one means could be rehed on many 
alternative methods had to be provided. Telegraph and 
telephone by wire and cables, wireless telegraphy, telegraphy 
through the ground (power buzzer), visual signalling with 
electric lamps, helios and flags, carrier pigeons, messenger 
dogs, message-carrying rockets, firework signals, motor- 
cychst despatch riders, mounted orderlies, cyclists, and 
finally runners were all employed in turn according to 
circumstances. The telephone cables, being too vulnerable 
overground, had sometimes to be buried to a depth of six 
or eight feet to protect them from shell fire, a task which 
entailed the digging of hundreds of miles of trenches. During 
1917 some 80,000 miles of telephone wire were buried in 
this way. Further to the rear, out of range of the enemy's 
artillery, the telegraph and telephone were used much in 
the same way as we are accustomed to in civil life. The 
number of messages dealt with on the different systems was 
astonishing, and in the great battles of 1917 and 1918 they 
amounted to tens of thousands in a day. 

The Royal Flying Corps, as the Royal Air Force was 
called in 1915, was under the command of Major-General 
(now Lieutenant-General Sir) David Henderson, who had 
been Director-General of MiHtary Aeronautics before the 
war, and may be termed the father of the corps. The 
detachment on the West Front was commanded by Brigadier- 
General (now Air-Marshal Sir) Hugh Trenchard, of whose 
excellent work I had many proofs when serving with him. 
At the time the corps was still very much in its infancy and 
below the requisite strength, but it had considerably 
improved as compared with its condition in August 19 14. 
The development and unrivalled efficiency it eventually 
attained are amongst the greatest achievements of the war. 
The country owes much to the Flying Corps, and especially 
to the men, or rather boys for the most part, who flew and 
fought the machines with such marvellous courage and skill. 
The pity of it is that so many of these gallant lads lost their 
lives. I always maintained that they were taken too young, 



G.H.Q. 225 

and the answer given me was that the younger ones were 
always the most daring. No doubt this was so, but this same 
daring was sometimes Httle less than recklessness, and led 
to loss of life which would have been avoided by men a 
year or two older. 

The Military Secretary, working directly under the 
Commander-in-Chief, and dealing with all appointments, 
promotions, and rewards, was another officer with whom I 
had much to do, as all nominations for employment on the 
General Staff throughout the Force were made by me before 
submission for the Chief's approval. Colonel " Billy " (now 
Major-General Sir William) Lambton held the post and 
filled it, so I thought, exceedingly well. He was a pleasant 
and practical officer to do business with, and his numerous 
friends were extremely sorry when, as a divisional com- 
mander later in the war, he had the misfortune to be 
seriously injured by his horse coming down with him. 

I should like to correct the idea, prevalent at one time 
if not now, that life at G.H.Q. was one of ease and indolence. 
It was very strenuous, and as a general rule the staff were 
kept hard at work, either in their offices or at the front, 
from early morning till ten o'clock or later at night. It 
should be remembered, too, that they carried great responsi- 
bilities. Officers who have done splendidly with troops at 
the front, or have shown high ability in administration, 
may still fail, and have been known to fail, to bear the 
heavier burdens resting upon them when employed at 
G.H.Q. To be of any real use there a General Staff officer 
must not be content with carrying on according to established 
routine, he must initiate ; he has to decide tangled questions 
which come before him because they have proved to be 
too much for the commanders and staffs at the front ; being 
at the top of the military structure, there is no one upon 
whom he can lean ; and he is oppressed mth the thought 
that a slip on his part may set going a series of actions involv- 
ing perhaps the loss of thousands of lives. 

Earlier in the war I had known staff officers to be so 
run down by constant work and worry as to faint away at 
their office tables, and this at a time when high spirits, 
confidence, and energy were especially needed. Good work 

Q 



226 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

calls for good physical and mental health, and I insisted 
upon my staff taking exercise at least once during the day, 
preferably on horseback, and going off to bed, whenever 
possible, by ten o'clock at night. In my own mess we 
seldom missed going for a ride at 6.30 a.m., returning for 
breakfast at 8 a.m., and with this invigorating recreation 
in hand we were able to commence the day's work on 
cheerful terms with ourselves and everybody else. I 
followed the same rule afterwards when at the War Of&ce, 
as did the other principal members of my staff (with one 
exception), regularly joining the " Liver Brigade " in the 
Row for about an hour every morning, and sometimes taking 
a second ride in the afternoon. 

Another matter upon which I laid stress was that staff 
of&cers at G.H.Q. should carefully maintain friendly rela- 
tions with the troops and headquarters, small as well as large, 
at the front. By this means only is it possible to learn what 
the feeling of an army really is, where the shoe pinches, and 
how it can be eased. A sympathetic listening to the numerous 
worries that daily beset subordinate commanders, a friendly 
chat with them about their personal duties and interests, 
the passing on of news about affairs on other fronts and in 
other theatres, all help to establish that spirit of comradeship 
and mutual confidence without which the wheels of the 
military machine will never go round smoothly and efiiciently. 
I used to visit some headquarters or troops practically every 
day, attending to office work in the evening, and the other 
officers of my staff were expected to do the same, as far as 
their other duties would permit. Being less important 
personages than myself, they were able to pick up informa- 
tion which was not vouchsafed to me, and it was for the 
common good that they should tell me, as they did, anything 
useful that came to their notice. 

To supplement their rather restricted opportunities a 
certain number of *' liaison officers " were employed as a 
more permanent Hnk between G.H.Q. and the front. Each 
morning before leaving they would visit the staff offices and 
prime themselves with what the army or army corps with 
which they were connected should know, would bring, back 
in the evening all the information gained that G.H.Q. should 



I915 227 

have, and at both ends would clear up, if they could, any 
points about which there might be misapprehension. Similar 
but more extensive arrangements were made for keeping up 
connection with the headquarters of the French and Belgian 
armies, each of the three Allies having a " military mission " 
permanently located at the headquarters of the other two. 
The French Mission at our G.H.Q. comprised a considerable 
number of officers, as there were daily many questions in 
regard to civil administration, the use of railways, etc., 
which had to be dealt with, quite apart from those affecting 
the fighting. 

I shall not attempt to describe in detail the operations 
which took place on the British front in 1915. That has 
been done in the despatches of the Commander-in-Chief, and, 
moreover, this book is not meant to be a history of the war. 
My observations will be of a general nature, and as the 
operations have not escaped criticism I would in the first 
place remind the reader that they should be judged not 
merely by what we may have failed to achieve, but also by 
what we prevented the enemy from achieving. 

The problem confronting the Commander - in - Chief 
throughout 1915 was one of extreme difficulty. The enemy 
was within a short distance of the Channel ports, the loss 
of which would be very serious to us, if not fatal, and at 
any moment he could close down his Russian operations 
sufiiciently to allow of reinforcements being sent to the 
West Front while we were still weak in men, practically 
without heavy artillery, and woefully short of artillery 
ammunition of all kinds. The necessity for safeguarding the 
Channel ports, together with our lack of men and munitions, 
indicated that the policy most favourable to us would be 
to defer offensive operations until we possessed a well-trained 
and well-equipped army adequate to our needs. This, 
however, would be to take a narrow view of the situation, 
as it would leave out of account the effect a defensive 
attitude might have upon our AUies, to say nothing of its 
destructive influence upon the morale of our own troops. 

It must also be remembered that the Commander-in- 
Chief was not in all respects master in his own house. 
Theoretically he was an independent commander and 



228 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

responsible only to his own Government, but his instructions 
laid down — quite rightly — ^that " the special motive of the 
Force under your command is to support, and co-operate 
with, the French army against our common enemies,'* and 
obviously he could not so co-operate and at the same time 
retain complete independence of action. The enemy was 
in possession of a large and valuable part of French territory ; 
Russia, suffering from a series of defeats, was crying out for 
pressure to be relieved by energetic action on the West Front ; 
certain prospective aUies were sitting on the fence, wondering 
on which side to descend or whether to come down at all ; 
and if General Joifre thought that this situation could best 
be met by an early offensive his British colleague could 
hardly do otherwise than support him to the best of his 
power. For these and a score of other reasons a defensive 
policy was not practicable, and yet it is true that our armies 
were not in a condition to fight with any good prospect of 
obtaining decisive results. 

Having before her our experiences of 1915 and 1916, and 
not forgetting perhaps the lessons she herself had learned 
in the Civil War, America seems to have decided, when she 
joined the Allies in 1917, not to commit her troops to battle 
until they were fully ready and of sufiicient strength to be 
more or less self-supporting : in the end, and in consequence 
of the enemy's action, she was obUged to forgo this decision 
and hurry to the assistance of the British and French armies 
as best she could. The inexorable fact is that, when opposed 
by a capable adversary, the imprepared nation is invariably 
compelled by force of circumstances to put its troops into 
battle piecemeal and before they have been properly trained 
to fight, with the result that losses are incurred out of all 
proportion to the progress made in winning the war, while 
the fives thus sacrificed are usually amongst the best which 
the nation possesses. 

To what cause history will attribute our unreadiness I 
shall not attempt to prophesy, but when I think of the 
terrible events of 1914 and 1915 ; of the privations and 
mental strain suffered by the men of our attenuated battafions 
through being kept in the front line for weeks at a stretch 
owing to the lack of reinforcements ; of men being shot down 



NEUVE CHAPELLE ' 229 

like rabbits when trying to pass through the enemy's wire 
entanglements which had not previously been demohshed 
because of the shortage of artillery ; and of the heavy loss 
of life in the hastily-raised and inexperienced divisions of 
the New Armies, I wonder what are the feelings of those 
who, occupying high positions in the years before the war, 
made no serious effort to provide such an army as the 
inevitable struggle with Germany would demand, and 
dehberately held up to scorn those who, putting patriotism 
before self-interest, strove to warn the country of the peril 
in which it stood. 

As a corollary of our unreadiness the Commander-in- 
Chief was further hampered by the uncertainty which 
prevailed throughout the greater part of 1915 regarding the 
reinforcements, guns, and ammunition which he might hope 
to receive within a given period of time. No one could 
possibly say long beforehand when particular divisions of 
the New Armies would be ready to take the field, or whether 
contracts for war material would or would not be fulfilled 
by the agreed date, while both men and material, originally 
ear-marked for France, were liable to be diverted at the last 
moment, and were diverted, to other theatres of war. It is 
not my purpose, for the moment, to question this dissemina- 
tion of resources. I merely wish to point out how difficult it 
was to utihse to the best advantage such resources as became 
available for the West Front, owing to the absence of any 
rehable basis upon which a definite and comprehensive plan 
of campaign could be constructed. 

Neuve Chapelle, the first battle in 1915, was fought on 
the loth, nth, and 12th March. We lost some 2500 killed 
and over 8000 wounded, while the enemy left thousands of 
dead on the field and removed, according to our intelligence 
reports, at least 12,000 wounded by train. 

Judged by more recent standards this battle would be 
classified as quite a minor engagement, but its importance 
should not be estimated merely by the numbers engaged, 
the duration of the fighting, or the results immediately 
achieved. It helped to nourish the offensive spirit of the 
troops, who had endured months of heart-breaking sub- 
mission to the enemy's will under the most trying climatic 



230 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

conditions ; it created a corresponding feeling of disquiet 
and disappointment in the German ranks ; it afforded many 
encouraging proofs that, given an adequate supply of guns 
and ammunition, the enemy's hues need not be regarded 
as impregnable ; and, finally, the elaborate arrangements 
made for the employment of artillery fire, which were intro- 
duced on this occasion for the first time, furnished useful 
guidance for both the British and French armies in the greater 
attacks imdertaken at a later period of the war. 

The second battle of Ypres, commencing at 5 p.m. on the 
22nd of April and ending on the 24th of May, is prominent 
as being the first action in which asphyxiating gas was used. 
The brunt of the attack fell on a French division which was 
holding the line Steenstraat-Langemarck on the extreme 
left of our Second Army, where the ist Canadian Division was 
posted. Within an hour the position had to be abandoned, 
the smoke and fumes of the gas hid everything from view, 
the ground was covered with men in a dying or comatose 
condition, and in the panic and confusion which prevailed 
it was impossible for any one to realise at first what had 
actually happened. Owing to the retirement of the French 
division — for which the division could not be blamed, as 
no troops would have held their ground against this 
unexpected form of attack — the left flank of the Canadian 
Division became completely exposed, and had it been 
driven in the whole of the British troops in the saHent 
would have been threatened with disaster. This danger 
was averted by the splendid gallantry of the Canadians, 
and by the prompt despatch of reserves from other divisions 
in the vicinity. 

The necessity for rapidly pushing troops forward to 
check the enemy's advance, and to close the gap between 
our left and the French right, inevitably led to the mixing 
of units ; this in its turn made the exercise of efficient 
command impossible ; and although large reinforcements 
were moved up and various other measures taken to meet 
eventualities, the situation was critical during the next few 
days. The ground gained by the enemy placed our troops 
in the saHent in a very awkward position, and as there 
seemed little prospect of recapturing the original line the 



FESTUBERT 231 

Commander-in-Chief decided on the ist of May to withdraw 
them to a safer hne in rear which had already been fixed 
upon. 

To withdraw a force at grips with a winning enemy 
must always be a difi&cult and delicate task, and in this 
particular case the conditions were specially unfavourable. 
The enemy had all the advantages of ground, he made 
violent attacks on the nights of the 2nd and 3rd of May while 
the rearward movement was going on, some of his front hne 
trenches were less than 100 yards distant from ours, the sur- 
face of the sodden fields had been so broken by artillery fire 
as to be nearly impassable, the maintenance of reliable com- 
munication was impossible, and our troops were absolutely 
worn out so far as British troops ever can be. In spite of all 
this, and of much more, the retirement was effected by the 
morning of the 4th of May with scarcely any loss, and during 
that day the enemy shelled the trenches we had abandoned, 
being quite unaware that our men were no longer in them. 
General Plumer succeeded General Smith-Dorrien in the 
command of the Second Army while the above events were 
taking place, and it is doubtful if any commander was ever 
before suddenly called upon to handle so difi&cult a situation. 

While the Second Army was still engaged in the battle 
of Ypres, the First Army made an attack on the enemy's 
trenches opposite the southern part of our hne, this operation, 
usually spoken of as the battle of Festubert, being part of 
a joint attack made by the French and British armies on 
the front extending from near Armentieres to Arras. The 
role of the British was to hold the enemy on their front, 
and draw towards themselves hostile reinforcements which 
might otherwise be sent to oppose the main attack made 
by the French troops under General Foch, the chief objective 
of the latter being the Vimy Ridge. The battle commenced 
on the 9th of May and was continued on the loth, it was 
resumed on the i6th, and terminated, so far as we were 
concerned, on the 25th. The French continued fighting 
in their attempts to take the Vimy Ridge until the 13th of 
July. We experienced the usual trouble with the enemy's 
machine-gun posts, with which we did not yet know how to 
deal, and we again felt the want of more artillery and 



232 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

ammunition. In fact, our co-operation ceased on the date 
mentioned because of the want of ammunition. The results 
of the battle were somewhat disappointing, the losses of 
both British and French being considerable and no im- 
mediate material advantage was gained. In consequence 
of the French losses, which were some of the heaviest in the 
war, Foch became rather unpopular in certain circles in 
France, by whom he was regarded, quite unjustly, as a 
leader who was careless of the Hves of his men. 

The battle of Loos, the first occasion on which we used 
gas, began on the 25th of September and continued imtil the 
15th of October. It, also, was carried out in combination 
with an attack by the French armies under General Foch 
on our right, a third and more powerful attack being simul- 
taneously made by the French armies under General Joffre 
in Champagne. The enemy's position at Loos was of 
exceptional strength and, as was the case everywhere else, 
there were few or no weak spots in the formidable defences 
upon which he had spent the greater part of a year in 
constructing ; the ground in front of the position was very 
open to view, and in other ways unfavourable to us as 
regards both the preparation and execution of the attack ; 
while we were further handicapped by bad weather inter- 
fering with observation of fire and aerial reconnaissance. 
Very satisfactory progress was made at the beginning of 
the battle but it could not be exploited, one reason for this 
being, amongst others, that the French on our right were 
imable to make any substantial headway in their efforts to 
gain complete possession of the Vimy Ridge. We were after- 
wards subjected to a series of severe counter-attacks, the 
battle swaying to and fro for several days, particularly in 
the neighbourhood of the renowned HohenzoUem Redoubt. 

The French attack in Champagne also, though successful 
at first, did not fulfil expectations, but taking the results of 
these autumn operations as a whole there is no doubt that 
they caused the enemy genuine anxiety, and I sometimes 
think that he might have suffered a real set-back had the 
large number of men and guns then in the Dardanelles been 
on the West Front. Speaking of this period, Falkenhayn 
admits that " a serious crisis arose, which almost led to the 



SHORTAGE OF EQUIPMENT 233 

withdrawal of the whole 3rd German Army on the Cham- 
pagne Front " ; while Ludendorff, in referring to the " power- 
ful offensive near Loos and in Champagne,** says that " the 
troops which had been transferred from the East (i.e. the 
Russian Front) arrived just in time to support the defenders 
of the West Front, who were holding out so gallantly, and 
avert a serious defeat." 

Our captures at Loos included over 3000 prisoners and 
26 field-guns, and many thousands of the enemy's dead 
were seen l3^ng on the ground in front of our lines. We 
also lost heavily, including three Divisional Commanders, 
Capper of the 7th Division, Wing of the 12th Division, and 
Thesiger of the 9th Division. No troops in the world could 
have fought with greater gallantry than ours did, but 
gallantry is not of itself enough to cope with the destructive 
effect of modem armament ; and the lack of adequate training 
and military experience in general from which the new 
divisions suffered, and the need for increased artillery sup- 
port, very quickly made themselves felt. More troops, more 
training, more aeroplanes, more guns, more ammunition, 
were required before decisive results could be achieved. 

With the exception of France, our AUies were no better 
off than ourselves, and some of them were worse. Before 
the war they were supposed to have, thanks to their system 
of universal service, large numbers of men available for 
mobihsation and on paper they had them, but when put to 
the test it was found that insufficient provision had been 
made for rifles, clothing, heavy artiUery, ammunition, 
vehicles, and all the other things required. Russia had 
milhons of men on her books, but could only put a com- 
paratively small proportion of them in the field, and she 
was not always sure as to what amount of equipment she 
had. Some which she thought she had proved to be not 
forthcoming when wanted, while in one instance at least 
stores were " found " of whose existence no one seems to 
have been previously aware. Italy, also, had more men of 
mihtary age than she could equip, and, Hke Russia, lacked 
both aeroplanes and heavy artillery. Belgium had naturally 
lost much of what she had at the beginning of the war, and 
Serbia had lost practically all. The two countries with the 



234 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

greatest surplus of men, Russia and Italy, were badly 
situated for making good their deficiencies by new produc- 
tion, as the former was difficult of access, the latter wanted 
coal, and both needed raw material. 

In December 1915 Joffre assembled representatives of 
all the Alhed armies at his headquarters at ChantiUy, so as 
to ascertain the men and material they then had and hoped 
to have by the spring of 19 16, and to try to arrive at some 
conclusions with respect to mutual assistance. The meeting, 
Uke those which followed it, was handicapped by the absence 
of a suitable representative from Russia. In all other cases 
the Allies were represented either by their Commander-in- 
Chief or his Chief of the Staff, but owing to distance and other 
causes Russia was always represented either by an officer 
permanently attached to Joffre's headquarters, or by another 
officer not then filUng a high position in the Russian army, 
and neither of these could speak with the requisite knowledge 
or authority. The meeting had some good results, but each 
representative not unnaturally argued that his own front 
was the most important and had perhaps been authori- 
tatively instructed to say so, and as everybody was short 
of nearly everything promises of assistance were rather 
reluctantly given and were usually conditional. 

Joffre's task at this period was difficult, for the war had 
not yet proceeded far enough to admit of his being acknow- 
ledged as supreme commander of all the Allied armies. 
Even the smallest countries were quick to resent outside 
interference with their status as independent nations. This 
can be understood if we remember that the question was 
not merely one of directing the armies in the field but also 
of organising and equipping them, and this affected the 
commercial, industrial, and financial interests of the whole 
nation. Any suggestion at this time of introducing the 
same system of centralised command as that which the 
prospect of stark defeat compelled the Allies to adopt in 
1918 would have been peremptorily turned down as too im- 
possible for any self-respecting country to entertain. Joffre 
had therefore to make the best of a bad job, and I am in- 
clined to think that he did aU that he or any one else could 
then have done to unify the efforts of the different armies. 



SECONDARY FRONTS 235 

G.H.Q. in France were of course concerned only with 
matters on that front, and had nothing to do with the 
conduct of the war in general, either strategical or adminis- 
trative. That was the business of the authorities in London, 
but it was the subject of a good deal of conversation with 
ministers and other officials who from time to time visited 
G.H.Q. The views of the General Staff were imanimous 
and simple. They were that the West Front was the main 
front, whether we liked it or not ; that the main decision 
must consequently be sought on that front ; and that every 
man, gun, and round of ammunition should be sent to it, 
except such as were absolutely required elsewhere for the 
defence of interests vital to the Empire. All our visitors did 
not agree, and perhaps suspected us of undue partiality to the 
front on which we were employed, but at least two of them, 
Mr. Asquith and Lord Kitchener, were as convinced as we 
were that so long as we won in the west temporary set-backs 
in other parts of the world would right themselves. Lord 
Kitchener once told me in connection with the enemy's 
activities in Persia and Afghanistan, that he did not care 
what happened there or in India if only we beat the German 
armies in Europe. 

For one reason or another, however, we had become 
committed before the end of 1915 to operations in no less 
than three secondary theatres, Mesopotamia, GaUipoh, and 
Macedonia ; a fourth campaign was about to begin in East 
Africa ; a fifth had to be contemplated against the Turks 
east of the Suez Canal, and the western border of Egypt 
was also imsettled. In the aggregate these Habihties seemed 
Hkely, before finished with, to make such demands upon 
men, material, and shipping as might seriously jeopardise 
success in the main theatre, and this was the more probable 
because Russia had just been so crippled as to render her 
future assistance a very doubtful quantity. As far as an 
outsider Hke myself could judge, these secondary operations 
formed no part of any general Entente plan embracing the 
war as a whole ; the importance of making proper prepara- 
tions to carry them out, and of carefully considering the 
extent to which they might develop, had been obscured by 
the desire to present the public with an easy and dramatic 



236 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

success ; and it was forgotten that any success of real 
advantage to us must equally be to the disadvantage of the 
enemy, who therefore might be expected to try his hardest 
to prevent it from being gained. 

The whole situation being so full of peril, I felt it to 
be my duty to do what I could to bring about somewhat 
more efficient methods in the supreme direction of the war. 
Strictly speaking I had no right to interfere, but departure 
from official etiquette was a small matter in comparison with 
the danger in which the country seemed to stand, and there- 
fore I decided to embody my views in a memorandum and 
send them unofficially to Murray, then Chief of the Imperial 
General Staff, to be disposed of as he thought fit. The memo- 
randum, which strongly advocated better co-ordination of 
the Entente plans, was eventually circulated to the Cabinet, 
and to that extent it served its purpose. 

A short time afterwards, when I happened to be at 
home. Lord Kitchener told me that I was wanted to take 
up the duties of Chief of the Imperial General Staff. For 
some weeks past I had suspected that this suggestion would 
be made, as I had received hints from influential quarters 
that I would be more useful in London than in France, 
and I had always opposed the change. It was distasteful 
to me to supersede Murray, who was an old friend and 
had taken up the appointment as recently as the 26th of 
September. Moreover, he was rapidly making the necessary 
improvements in the General Staff machinery, and I was 
not vain enough to suppose that I could do any better 
than he was doing, if as well. A minor reason for wishing 
to remain in France was that the open-air Hfe and spirit of 
comradeship and cheerfulness which always prevailed at the 
front, no matter how bad the weather or how aggressive the 
enemy, were far more attractive than the gloomy despond- 
ency of London and the thankless work of Whitehall. Still 
another reason was that I could not help being influenced 
by the prevailing gossip that Lord Kitchener centrahsed all 
authority in his own hands, and would not allow the General 
Staff at the War Office to take that part in the strategical 
direction of operations which it ought to take. My acquaint- 
ance with him at the time was very slight, for although we 



LORD KITCHENER 237 

had served together in South Africa I was then only a junior 
officer and we saw practically nothing of each other. 

I therefore asked him to leave me in France, but to this 
he would not hsten, and from the long conversation we had 
the same evening at York House it became evident that I 
ought to comply with his wishes. In the course of our talk 
he referred quite frankly to the unenviable reputation he 
had acquired, and asked me not to beHeve it for it was not 
true, and he assured me that I might rest satisfied that no 
action of his would endanger our working smoothly together. 
I was much impressed by his outspoken manner, and felt 
that I was in the presence of a man whose character was 
totally different from what I had been led to suppose ; but 
I still thought it would be best for both of us, and for the 
country, if before finally deciding we came to a definite 
understanding, in writing, on the particular points regarding 
which I was in doubt. 

To this he agreed, and as soon as I returned to France 
I sent him a memorandum containing my proposals, one of 
them being that all operation orders issued to Commanders- 
in-Chief to give effect to the mihtary policy of the Govern- 
ment should be sent by me, the Chief of the Imperial General 
Staff, and not, as hitherto, be issued in the name of the 
Army Council and over the signature of the Secretary of the 
Council — a civihan. This and certain other proposals did 
not meet with his approval, and in the letter which he wrote 
me by return of post he said that it would be impossible for 
him to retain the responsibihty of Secretary of State for War 
without full executive power, and with his functions cur- 
tailed to the feeding and clothing of the army (the Ministry 
of Munitions having recently taken over the other services 
of maintenance) ; but that although he could not remain 
Secretary of State for War if my suggestions were accepted 
by the Government — as he thought they would be — he might 
still continue to be a member of the War Council, and " in 
that case you may rely on me to always do my best to 
support you in carrying out the difficult task you will have 
before you." 

This example of patriotism and subordination of self 
was the more striking as coming from a man of his standing 



238 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

in the Empire and with his record of service, and I had not 
a moment's hesitation as to the right thing to do. His 
letter reached me at St. Omer about seven o'clock in the 
evening, and as I knew that he was passing through Calais 
at eleven o'clock the same night on his way to Paris, I got 
into my motor after dinner and went to Calais to meet 
him. He greeted me very cordially, albeit a Httle sadly, I 
thought, and with an air of disappointment. I came at 
once to the point and said that whatever happened I could 
not hear of his leaving the War Office, since there was no 
one who could fiU the position which he held in the country, 
and I begged him to discuss with me the paragraphs in the 
memorandum to which he objected. As his train was due 
to start almost immediately for Paris he asked me to go 
with him. I jumped in, and we sat up talking till two 
o'clock next morning, the conversation being resumed after 
we had breakfasted in Paris. 

I had two special reasons for wishing to aboUsh the 
existing system of issuing operation orders, and to vest this 
duty, unhampered, in the hands of the Chief of the Imperial 
General Staff. At the time the Army Council consisted of 
four mihtary and four civil members (later increased by 
three additional military members, or eleven in aU), besides 
the Secretary of State for War, and aU these members had 
the right, if they chose to exercise it, to be consulted before 
any important orders were issued in the name of the Council. 
This would have entailed interminable delay, and as all the 
members had more than enough to do in their own depart- 
ments without becoming entangled in the work of the 
General Staff, they were, in practice, not consulted, except 
in so far as their respective departments were concerned — 
a custom which must necessarily prevail under any system. 
Therefore while they shared the responsibihty for the operation 
orders issued, they knew, in fact, little or nothing about them, 
and this was neither fair to them nor to the General Staff. 

My second objection to this sham system was that it 
prevented the General Staff at the War Office from being 
recognised as the Great General Staff of our armies at the 
front, and in my opinion this recognition was essential. At 
the front the issue of operation orders was, as in all armies 



C.I.G.S. 239 

of the world, the business of the General Staff and of no 
one else, and my proposal brought the procedure at the 
War Office into conformity with this practice, and caused 
the pretended control of operations by the Army Council to 
disappear. It did not, as some people imagined, involve 
any diminution in the authority of the Secretary of State 
for War. It merely assigned a particular duty to the head 
of one department of the War Office instead of assigning it 
to the Army Council as a whole, made the position of the 
General Staff clear, and brought that Staff into more direct 
relations with the Cabinet. 

When I had explained the proposal in this way to 
Lord Kitchener, and cleared up the other points with which 
he was not at first in agreement, the offending paragraphs 
of the memorandum — written in a hurry and not very 
happily worded in all respects — were amended in a manner 
satisfactory to both of us, and I returned to G.H.Q. at 
St. Omer. A few days later I left for England, and on the 
23rd of December took up the new post. 

The memorandum, as amended, was as follows : 

General Headquarters, 

British Army in the Field in France, 

Sth December 19 15. 

Dear Lord Kitchener — You were kind enough yesterday 
to express your willingness to receive some observations of mine 
regarding the conduct of the war, with special reference to the 
status and duties of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff. 

For a long time past I have given careful and anxious con- 
sideration to this question. Both the history of past wars and 
our experience in the present war show that certain conditions 
are normally essential to the successful conduct of mihtary 
operations, though there have, it is true, been isolated instances 
of commanders of genius who have triumphed in the absence of 
these conditions. 

These conditions are : 

(I.) There should be a supreme directing authority whose 
function is to formulate policy, decide on the theatres in 
which military operations are to be conducted, and determine 
the relative importance of these theatres. This authority 
must also exercise a general supervision over the conduct of 
the war, and must select the men who are to execute the 
policy on which it has decided. Its constitution must be 



240 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

such that it is able to come to quick decisions, and therefore 
as regards the conduct of the war it must be absolute. 

The War Council^ should be capable of performing the 
functions of this supreme authority, provided it is relieved of 
responsibility to the Cabinet as a whole as regards the conduct 
of military operations, and that it has real executive power 
and is not merely an advisory committee. 

The War Council will frequently find itself in a position 
similar to that of a commander in the field — that is, it will 
have to come to a decision when the situation is obscure, 
when information is deficient, and when the wishes and the 
powers of our Allies are uncertain. Whatever these diffi- 
culties may be, if and when a decision is required it must be 
made. If it is deferred success cannot be expected ; the com- 
mander concerned will have a grossly unfair burden placed upon 
him ; and in fact the absence of a decision may be Httle less 
than criminal because of the loss of life which may be entailed. 

(II.) In order that the War Council may be able to come 
to timely decisions on the questions with which it has to 
deal, it is essential that it should receive all advice on matters 
concerning military operations through one authoritative 
channel only. With us that channel must be the Chief of 
the Imperial General Staff. It is his function, so far as regards 
military operations, to present to the War Council his reasoned 
opinion as to the mihtary effect of the policy which they pro- 
pose, and as to the means of putting this approved policy into 
execution. The War Coimcil are then free to accept or reject 
the reasoned advice so offered. 

Advice regarding military operations emanating from 
members of the Cabinet, or of the War Council in their indi- 
vidual capacity, or from any other individual, should be 
sifted, examined, and presented, if necessary with reasoned 
conclusions, to the War Council by the Chief of the Imperial 
General Staff before it is accepted by the War Council. 

(III.) All orders for the military operations required to 
put into execution the policy approved by the War Council 
should be issued and signed by the Chief of the Imperial 
General Staff, under the authority of the Secretary of State 
for War, not under that of the Army Council. Similarly, aU 
communications from General Officers Commanding regarding 
mihtary operations should be addressed to the Chief of the 
Imperial General Staff. In fact, the same procedure is 
required in London as obtains in the field — the War Council 
being in the position of the Commander-in-Chief of the 

^ The constitution of this War Council, or War Committee, is described 
on p. 353. 



MEMORANDUM TO LORD KITCHENER 241 

whole of the Imperial Land Forces, and, with the War 
Office Staff, constituting the Great General Headquarters 
of the Empire. 

(IV.) The adoption of this system by which commimica- 
tions regarding military operations are issued and received by 
the Chief of the Imperial General Staff wiU greatly expedite 
the despatch of business, and will help to preserve greater 
secrecy than now prevails. 

Instances have occurred in the war of the contents of the 
most important documents becoming pubhc property within 
a few days. Than this nothing could be more harmful to the 
conduct of the war. It would be for the Chief of the Imperial 
General Staff to give orders as to the reproduction and dis- 
tribution of these coromunications, and he would of course be 
responsible for seeing that the Secretary of State for War and 
the War Council receive at all times fuU information of all 
that they should know. 

(V.) The Chief of the Imperial General Staff must be free 
to devote his entire time to the duties above indicated, and 
have sufficient leisure to think quietly out the many difficult 
problems which are continually arising, and also to keep him- 
self thoroughly fit in mind and body. He must therefore be 
reheved as far as possible of War Office routine duties. To do 
this the Assistant Chief of the Imperial General Staff should 
become a Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff with 
authority to represent, as and when necessary, the Chief of 
the Imperial General Staff in all Army Coimcil business. 

(VI.) The number of General Officers Commanding with 
which the Chief of the Imperial General Staff should deal 
should not exceed the number which experience shows to be 
possible — about half-a-dozen. 

For this it is necessary that a General Officer Commanding- 
in-Chief should be appointed to the Command of the Home 
Forces or those in Great Britain, as may be deemed best, his 
position being exactly similar to, say, that of the General 
Officer Commanding-in-Chief in France, except that the 
present system of administration need not be disturbed. He 
would also be responsible for Home Defence, the troops for 
this purpose being allocated, of course, under instructions 
issued by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff as in all 
other cases — vide para (HI.). 

I need not go more fully into my reasons for the above pro- 
posals, as I am sure they will be obvious to you. It is of para- 
mount importance in war that there should be a deffiiite plan of 
operations, and that that plan should be carried out with prompt- 

R 



242 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

ness and decision. It is impossible that this should be so if the 
War Council is itself compelled to listen to conflicting advice, 
and to decide between the merits of rival experts. It is equally 
impossible that this should be so if the War Council has to submit 
its plan for the conduct of the war to the approval of the whole 
Cabinet. The War Council is now conducting military opera- 
tions in a number of separate theatres of war, and has control of 
large reserves which may be thrown into one theatre or another. 
France has no reserves left, therefore the decision as to the 
future conduct of the war by the Western Allies rests in great 
measure with the War Council. It is vital then that it should 
possess the machinery both to come to timely decisions and to 
have its decisions executed. 

My proposals seem to necessitate some modifications of the 
Orders in Council which lay down the constitution of the Army 
Council and the duties of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff. 
If that is so those Orders should be amended for the period of the 
war. They were never intended, I suppose, to meet a situation 
such as now exists, and they certainly do not meet it. 

I hope you will not think that I have any desire to make a 
bargain for myself, but I feel strongly that I cannot serve the 
War Council and my King and country as Chief of the Imperial 
General Staff unless the above conditions are fulfilled. It is my 
conviction that the system by which the war has been conducted 
hitherto has been such as to make victory very difficult indeed, 
if not impossible. Having no faith in it I could not do justice 
' to it, and therefore if my proposals cannot be accepted you 
would be better advised to select an officer who sees in the exist- 
ing system a possible means of bringing this war to a successful 
conclusion. 

I hope, however, that the proposals may not be considered 
unacceptable, and that they will be adopted whoever may fiU 
the post of Chief of the Imperial Staff. If the appointment were 
offered to me, I should have to make a few alterations in the 
General Staff organisation at the War Ofiice, and would wish to 
replace two or three of&cers by officers from this country. 

I need not trouble you with these alterations except to say 
that: 

The Directorate of Home Defence and part of the Training 
Directorate would be handed over to the staff of the General 
Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Home Forces, as his staff. The 
remaining part of the Training Directorate would be placed in the 
Staff Duties Directorate. 

One of these two Directors could be aboHshed. 

The D.M.O. Branch would be divided into the two Direc- 
torates of " Operations " and " Intelligence." 



" OUR BARGAIN " 343 

The Chief of the Imperial General Staff would then have to 
deal with Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Director of 
Operations, and Director of Intelligence. The Director of Staff 
Duties would be under the Deputy Chief of the Imperial General 
Staff. 

I enclose a duplicate copy of this letter, which I hope you wiU 
send to the Prime Minister should it ever be contemplated to 
offer me the appointment of Chief of the Imperial General Staff. — 
Believe me, yours sincerely, 

W. R. Robertson. 

On the 27th of January igi6 the new method of issuing 
operation orders was authorised in the following Order in 
Council : 

The Chief of the Imperial General Staff shall, in addition to 
performing such other duties as may from time to time be 
assigned to him under the Order in Council, dated the loth 
August 1914, be responsible for issuing the orders of the Govern- 
ment in regard to MiUtary Operations. 

During the time we worked together Lord Kitchener 
would sometimes refer to the memorandum as " our bargain," 
and would ask his personal staff whether he was carrying 
his part of it out, thus showing a genuine desire to make 
everything go smoothly. For myself I never had occasion 
to give it another thought, and I shall always regret that 
the unfounded gossip to which I have alluded caused me to 
misjudge him, even though temporarily, and so add to 
the cares and anxieties he was then carrying, alone and 
unaided save by those loyal friends who reaUy knew and 
appreciated him. I shaU say more on this point in the 
next chapter. 

To assist me in forming a proper general headquarters 
in London I took home Whigham as my deputy and Maurice 
as Director of Operations. The faithful Lucas accompanied 
me as a matter of course. I was sorry to have to move 
these officers from France, for besides condemning them to 
uncongenial work in London it meant placing them, in 
comparison with their contemporaries at the front, at a 
distinct disadvantage with regard to their prospects of 
advancement. But like the good fellows they are they made 
no wry faces, and expressed their willingness to go wherever 



244 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

I thought they could best help me and be of most use to 
the State. 

My eldest son Brian, who had come to France as my 
second aide-de-camp in May, six months after passing into 
the Royal Engineers from the Royal Military Academy, I 
left behind with his corps. He was afterwards employed as 
aide-de-camp to Sir Douglas Haig, and then on the General 
Staff of the XL Corps, where he won the good opinion of 
his corps commander, Haking. He then served to the end 
of hostihties as an infantry brigade-major under Brigadier- 
General James. I am proud to feel that his services in the 
war were considered sufi&ciently meritorious to justify the 
award first of the Military Cross and later of the Dis- 
tinguished Service Order, a decoration which I myself had 
been awarded some twenty-five years before. 

I also left my chauffeur, Reginald Settle, in France. 
Educated at a pubhc school previous to joining his father's 
business, he volunteered early in the war and had driven 
my RoUs Royce since the autumn of 1914. He was devoted 
to his car — ^which he would allow no one else to touch — 
and also to myself ; and he wished to accompany me home 
so as to continue driving me to the end of the war. This 
duty, as it would be in London, was not however quite 
suitable to a young man of his attainments and upbringing, 
and therefore I decided to leave him behind. He was a 
clean-living, attractive boy, and his death at the front a 
few weeks later, after receiving a commission, was a heavy 
blow to his parents. His only brother died in a French 
hospital at Mayence shortly after the armistice. 

Settle was succeeded by Corporal Carthews, another 
good driver and loyal servant, who remained with me imtil 
his death from a sudden attack of influenza in 1918. 

Whilst at G.H.Q. in France I always found the French 
General Staff most friendly and helpful, and think that 
the relations between the two staffs could hardly have 
been better. This was largely due to the French Chief of 
the General Staff, General PelM, with whom it was always 
easy and pleasant to work. On the day of my departure 
from France I received the following letter from General 
Joff re : 





':' -V^''<%J 



y 




Marshal JoFFRE cowERSixG WITH some French officers at Cologne, 1919. 



LETTER FROM JOFFRE 245 

22 dhc. 1915. 

MoN CHER G6n6ral — Je suis tr^ louche des sentiments que 
vous m'exprimez au moment ou vous quittez la France pour 
prendre les fonctions de Chef d'fitat-Major Imperial au War Office. 

J'ai €\.€ tres heureux de votre nomination k ce poste, parce 
que je suis certain que vous y emploierez au benefice de la cause 
commune les hautes qualites dont vous avez fait preuve comme 
Chef d'fitat-Major des Troupes Britanniques en France. 

La cordialite de nos relations anterieures m'est un sur garant 
que I'accord sera toujours de plus en plus intime entre nos 
armees alliees et nul mieux que vous n'etait qualifie pour assurer 
en Angleterre la coordination de nos efforts. 

Agr^ez, mon cher General, I'assurance de mes sentiments les 
plus d^vou^. 

J. JOFFRE. 

\Translation. 

I highly appreciate the sentiments that you have been 
good enough to convey to me at the time when you are leaving 
France to take up the duties of Chief of the Imperial General 
Staff at the War Office. 

Your nomination to this post gives me great pleasure, for I 
feel sure that you wiU display in it to the benefit of the common 
cause the same high quahties as those of which you have given 
proof while Chief of the General Staff with the British Army in 
France. 

The cordiality of our relations in the past is a safe guarantee 
that the mutual understanding between our two armies will 
become still closer, and no one is better quahfied than yourself 
to ensure in England the co-ordination of our efforts. 

Pray accept, my dear General, the assurance of my sincere 
respect. 

J. JOFFRE.] 



CHAPTER XV 

CHIEF OF THE IMPERIAL GENERAL STAFF, I916 

General situation in all theatres — Reorganisation of the General Staff — 
Position of C.I.G.S. — Relations with Joffre, Cadoma, and Alexeieff 
— War Council and War Cabinet — Relations between Ministers and 
their professional advisers — Proposed war poUcy approved by 
Cabinet — Send instructions to Commanders-in-Chief — Steps to 
improve training and organisation of troops at home and abroad — 
Home Defence — India and India Ofi&ce responsible for Mesopotamia 
— Need for comprehensive plan for utilising man-power — Cabinet 
Committee set up to deal with the question — Lord Kitchener and 
Compulsory Service — ^Many people objected to it — Problem of pro- 
viding officers — Production of tanks — Evacuation of GaUipoli — 
Operations in Mesopotamia — Campaign is handed over to the War 
Office — Fall of Kut-el-Amara — Appointment of Maude as Com- 
mander-in-Chief — His successes — Operations in Egypt and Mace- 
donia — Disadvantages of employing armies of mixed nationahties — 
East Africa — Smuts and Van Dewenter — Operations on the West 
Front — Situation at the end of the year — ^Ministers' dissatisfaction 
- — Tendency to try new methods and plans — Joffre superseded by 
Nivelle as Commander-in-Chief of French armies — His plan for 
1917 rejected by Governments in favour of Nivelle's plan — My 
relations with Joffre — Change of Government — My relations with 
Lord Kitchener — The part he played in the war. 

I TOOK up the post of C.I.G.S. (Chief of the Imperial General 
Staff) with a profound sense of anxiety, as I realised that 
the amount of work to be done was enormous and without- 
precedent, and that many things would be expected of me 
with which I had had no previous dealings, for I had not 
only to organise the armies and superintend their strategi- 
cal employment in accordance with the poHcy of the Govern- 
ment, but also to make myself acquainted with numerous 
matters, great and smaU, which affected almost every 
branch of the Hfe of the nation. Moreover, it was impressed 
upon me by several pubhc men and others, especially after 
the death of Lord Kitchener, that the country looked to 
me to show the way to victory, and the feeling of this 

246 



THE GENERAL SITUATION 247 

responsibility never left me for an instant. A heavier 
burden could hardly have rested on the shoulders of any 
man, and I could only hope that I might be given the 
strength and wisdom to carry it fearlessly and efficiently. 
I am thankful to remember that, notwithstanding many 
disappointments, I never once felt or expressed, privately 
or officially, any doubt as to our ability to win, provided 
the Government, supported by the people, put into the 
war what war has always required — adequate men, material, 
and moral resolution, — and put them in at the right time 
and in the right place. 

Though not so immediately critical as in the spring of 
1918, the general miUtary situation at the end of 1915 was 
darker and more complicated than at any period of the 
war. Russia had suffered crushing defeats at the hand of 
Mackensen, losing heavily in men, territory, and morale, 
and whether she would be able to recover from them suffi- 
ciently to be of effective assistance to the Allies in the 
future was at least doubtful. The ItaUan armies seemed 
unable to make material progress in expelling the Austrians 
from their positions beyond the Isonzo. On the West Front 
no tangible results could as yet be shown in return for the 
great expenditure of life incurred. Servia had been over- 
run, the remnants of her army driven out of the country, 
and the Anglo-French forces sent out too late to help her 
were now opposed by strong hostile forces in front, had an 
uncertain neutral on their flanks, and were left with no 
better objective than the passive defence of Salonika. The 
Dardanelles operations had been partially abandoned as a 
failure, Anzac and Suvla having already been evacuated, 
and the remaining troops were clinging to Cape Helles 
pending a decision as to whether they were to remain 
there or come away. On the western frontier of Egypt 
the Senussi tribesmen had established themselves within 
striking distance of the Nile valley ; in the Sudan there 
were signs of trouble with the Sultan of Darfur, who had 
been approached by Turkish agents ; and on the east 
the Turks were in possession of the Sinai Peninsula, and 
were being promised German support in an attack on Egjrpt 
from that side, thus endangering the most vital of our 



248 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Imperial communications — the Suez Canal. In Mesopotamia 
an Anglo-Indian force under Major-General Townshend, 
inadequate in strength and imperfectly organised, had 
retreated from Ctesiphon after the abortive attempt to 
capture Baghdad, and since the beginning of December 
had been besieged by a considerable Turkish army at Kut- 
el-Amara. Thus the " one bright spot on the military 
horizon," as Baghdad was thought to be by certain people 
only a few weeks before, had receded so far into space as 
to be whoUy invisible. In East Africa we were unable to 
defend our territory, and British prestige was at its lowest 
ebb. 

As regards our own share in bringing about this state of 
affairs it is no exaggeration to say that every mistake we 
had made in our wars with France more than a hundred 
years before had been repeated. We had committed our- 
selves to expeditions, on a vast scale and in remote theatres, 
which were strategically unsound, had never been properly 
thought out, and in the Dardanelles alone had already cost 
us considerably over 100,000 casualties. The false direction 
thus given to our strategy imperilled the chances of ultimate 
success, and at the best was bound to hang like a millstone 
round our necks for the remainder of the war — as it did. 

It is one of the first principles of war that all available 
resources should be concentrated at the *' decisive *' point 
— that is, at the place where the main decision of the war 
is to be fought out. There may be a difference of opinion 
as to where that point should be, but there should never 
be more than one such point at a time, and once the selection 
is made, no departure from the principle just mentioned is 
admissible except (a) when it becomes necessary to detach 
troops for the protection of interests vital to oneself, for 
example the Suez Canal ; or [h) when by detaching them 
the enemy will be compelled as a counter-measure to send 
a still larger detachment in order to protect interests which 
are vital to him. This principle, as old as the hills, had been 
inexcusably violated in 1914-15, and however much we 
might afterwards try to mitigate the evils resulting therefrom 
they could never be entirely removed. 

But there was another side to the picture. In spite 



CHANGES AT THE WAR OFFICE 249 

of losses and unfulfilled expectations the people of the 
Empire remained solid in their determination to see the 
war through to a successful conclusion, cost what it 
might, and so long as this spirit continued there was no 
reason for despair in the minds of their leaders and 
servants. That it would continue no one had the right to 
doubt, and whenever the outlook was black and the prospects 
of victory seemed remote, or even threatened to disappear 
altogether, renewed hope and strength could always be 
derived from a justifiable behef in the steadfastness of 
the British race. This beHef was many times confirmed in 
1916 and 1917 by letters which I received from private 
persons and public bodies expressing confidence in the 
General Staff and showing a firm resolution to win. Much 
encouragement was also given by individual public men 
who promised to support the General Staff to the full 
extent of their power in the measures recommended for 
prosecuting the war. 

The first thing required of me was to give the General 
Staff at the War Of&ce an organisation similar to that at 
G.H.Q. in France, though on a more extensive scale, and 
then hope that, as a result of its increased usefulness, the 
Government would accord to it that position in the direction 
of the war which a General Staff at Great Headquarters is 
intended to fill. 

The reforms commenced with the room assigned for my 
own use in the War Ofiice, the first and only day spent in 
it being quite the most exasperating day of my life. The 
telephone, which I have always detested, rang incessantly, 
and a constant stream of people of both sexes and all grades 
— ^girl tjrpists, wives of officers, members of parHament, 
boy-scout messengers, general officers — entered the room, 
one after another, unannounced, either to see me on some 
trivial matter or some one else whose room they thought it 
was. To attempt to work under such maddening conditions 
was worse than useless. Lucas reahsed the position as well 
as I did, and by nine o'clock next morning he had taken 
possession of another room for me, from which all telephone 
apparatus was expelled, and access to which could only 
be gained through an anteroom where he or my private 



250 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

secretary kept constant guard so that I might be left in 
peace. 

I have described in the preceding chapter the new system 
sanctioned by which the C.I.G.S., instead of the Army 
Coimcil as a whole, became responsible for the issue of 
operation orders, and, as bearing upon this, I may now 
explain the change made in his status vis-d-vis the other 
military members of the Council. When the Council was 
first formed in 1904 the military members were given 
precedence amongst themselves according to their appoint- 
ments, the C.I.G.S. being First Military Member, the Adjutant- 
General second, and so on. This system had been altered 
during the war, precedence being taken according to seniority 
of rank, and on arrival at the War Office I occupied the third 
place. I represented to Lord Kitchener that while I did 
not care two straws personally what place was allotted to 
me, I was in fact chief military adviser to the Government, 
and that in other respects the system was illogical and 
ought to be replaced by the original one. He did not 
agree, taking the view that one member was as necessary 
to the constitution of the Council as another, and there- 
fore that each was entitled, subject to seniority of rank, to 
be recognised as the First Member. I objected that this 
could not work in practice, since, for example, it was for 
the C.I.G.S. to lay down, in conformity with the policy of 
the Government, where troops were to be sent, and it then 
became the duty of the Quartermaster-General to send their 
food there. It was not for the Quartermaster-General to 
lay down the place where food would be sent, and then for 
the C.I.G.S. to send troops there to eat it. This rough and 
exaggerated illustration of conducting the Council's business 
had effect, and as he dishked going back on the system but 
recently set up, he naively settled the matter by promoting 
me " temporary " General. As this was a higher rank than 
that held by any other Councillor it automatically made me 
First Member. 

With respect to the distribution of duties as between 
the different members of the General Staff I separated the 
Operations and Intelligence Directorate into two, as I had 
done in France, Maurice taking charge of the Operations, 



SIR CHARLES CALLWELL 251 

and Callwell retaining the Intelligence. I was lucky to 
find Callwell in the department, as he was most helpful in 
making me acquainted with the situation in the various 
theatres of war, and with numerous other current questions 
about which I naturally knew little or nothing. He had 
joined the General Staff from the retired list at the beginning 
of the war, having previously had many years' experience 
in it, and I shudder to think what I would have done during 
the first few harassing weeks of my time as C.I.G.S. had 
I not had the benefit of his assistance. Later on he was 
succeeded by Macdonogh, whom I thought it best to bring 
back from G.H.Q. in France so as to utilise the knowledge 
he had acquired of that all-important front as chief of the 
InteUigence since 19 14. Whigham, my deputy, had charge 
of all General Staff work not included in Operations and 
InteUigence, and acted for me at Army Council meetings, 
as on all other occasions, when I could not be present. 
Brigadier-General Bird was Director of Staff Duties and 
Brigadier-General Cockerill Deputy Director of Intelligence, 
and amongst the numerous other offtcers employed were 
Kirke, Bartholomew, Ellington, Earl Percy (now Duke of 
Northumberland), and Butler (a New Army officer and son 
of the late Master of Trinity College, Cambridge) in the 
Operations branch, and Buckley, French, KeU, and Cox in 
the Intelligence. 

The method of dealing with the receipt and despatch 
of official letters and telegrams connected with the employ- 
ment of the field armies was next taken in hand. According 
to the existing procedure — the old peace procedure and 
quite unsuitable for war — all commimications arriving at 
the War Office were received and distributed, some of them 
first being printed, by the civil staff of the Secretary's 
department. They poured in by hundreds daily and 
referred to every imaginable subject, from a demand for 
more socks to the dispositions of whole armies. The depart- 
ment did its work manfully, and so far as concerned the 
socks and the multitude of other things required by the 
troops the system was probably a good one, but for the 
direction of military operations in face of the enemy it was 
impossible. Communications on this subject must reach 



252 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

the General Staff without a moment's delay, pass through 
as few hands as possible, and be distributed to such persons 
as the trained officers of the General Staff can alone decide. 
With the concurrence of the Secretary, Sir Reginald Brade, 
the system was so modified as to secure these results, and 
I formed a small section within the General Staff itself for 
deahng with the receipt and disposal of all telegrams and 
other important communications of a General Staff nature. 

These and other measures made the General Staff a live 
organisation, caused it to be recognised as the Great General 
Staff of the armies in the field, and enabled it to furnish 
the Government with considered advice on important 
military questions, so that whether the advice were accepted 
or not ministers would be made aware of the probable 
military effect of their decisions. 

For the purpose of keeping each other informed on 
matters with which we were mutually concerned, I had 
officers at the headquarters of Joffre, Cadoma, and Alexeieff 
respectively, and they had their representatives with me 
in London. Brigadier-Generals Yarde-Buller, CHve and 
Delme - Radcliffe, and other officers were employed on 
this duty in France and Italy. Mainly as a result of 
their good work and friendly relations with the French 
and Itahan staffs, there was always a complete under- 
standing with those two countries. With Russia it was 
not equally satisfactory, although the representatives at 
both ends did their best to make it so. There were 
several reasons for this. Alexeieff and I were strangers to 
each other and so were our staffs ; I could not meet him, 
as I frequently could Joffre and Cadoma, and discuss 
matters personally ; he was inclined to press for more 
British divisions being sent to the eastern theatres, includ- 
ing co-operation with his forces in Armenia, which was at 
variance with my views ; and he never seemed able to 
appreciate the tax imposed by long-distance operations 
on our already overstrained naval and shipping resources. 
Twice during 1916 I sent Callwell to explain these and 
similar questions to him, and to some extent he was success- 
ful in clearing up points of difference, while my permanent 
representatives also achieved something in the same direc- 



THE WAR CABINET 253 

tion, but the understanding was never as complete and stable 
as with France and Italy. It could not possibly be so, for 
although Alexeieff sincerely desired to work in close accord 
with the British General Staff, and to the best of my know- 
ledge with all the Entente armies, he had, over and above 
the disadvantages just indicated, to contend with a very 
difficult situation in his own country, which daily became 
worse until it ended in the revolution of 19 17, 

The machinery employed by the Government for the 
supreme conduct of naval and mihtary operations consisted, 
at the commencement of the war, of the Cabinet of some 
twenty odd members, aided by the Committee of Imperial 
Defence, and with the Admiralty and War Office acting as 
its executive agents. Later, the Committee of Imperial 
Defence gave place to a War Coimcil composed of certain 
selected ministers, with the Prime Minister as Chairman ; 
this, in its turn, afterwards became known as the Dardanelles 
Committee ; and, finally, the latter was replaced by a War 
Committee. The last-named was in existence when I be- 
came C.I.G.S., and, as I had said to Lord Kitchener in my 
letter of the 5th December (reproduced in the preceding 
chapter), it was not weU adapted to ensure decisions being 
promptly reached, for, notwithstanding some delegation of 
its powers to the War Committee, the Cabinet still seemed to 
be regarded as the supreme authority to whom the more im- 
portant questions should be referred before action was taken. 

When Mr. Lloyd George became Prime Minister in 
December 19 16 the old-time Cabinet and its War Com- 
mittee both disappeared, and, following much the same 
principles as I had suggested in my letter to Lord Kit- 
chener, a War Cabinet of six or seven members assumed 
unrestricted control over the war-business of the nation. 
From a mihtary standpoint — and leaving out of account 
the constitutional aspect of the question, about which I 
express no opinion — the change was welcome, if only for 
the reason that six men could be trusted to give a de- 
cision in less time than a score would ; but my experience 
leads me to add that the War Cabinet did not by any 
means provide a complete remedy for the evils from which 
its predecessor had suffered. Most of its members were 



254 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

ministers without portfolios, and having little if any first- 
hand knowledge of the questions with which they had to 
deal they were necessarily dependent upon those ministers 
who had it. Consequently the Secretary of State for War, 
the First Lord of the Admiralty, and the Foreign Secretary, 
none of whom were members of the War Cabinet, usually 
had to attend once a day when meetings were held, while 
other ministers, such as the Secretary of State for India, 
the Shipping Controller, the Minister of Labour, the Minister 
of the Air, and the Minister of Munitions, had also frequently 
to be summoned. The result was that the total number 
present was often not much less, and was sometimes more, 
than under the old system, and it is difficult to see how this 
could have been prevented, for whether the heads of the 
various State departments do or do not permanently belong 
to the body charged with the supreme direction of a 
war, they must be called in when important questions 
concerning their departments are being considered. The 
fact is that in a great war such as that of 19 14-18 the 
ramifications of the numerous problems which arise are so 
widespread that the rapid despatch of business must always 
be exceedingly difficult to achieve. 

In 1916, and throughout 1914-18 for that matter, there 
was much public criticism of the way in which the Govern- 
ment was conducting the war, and it was difficult to keep 
clear of the pohtical controversies which arose, though I 
persistently strove to give them a wide berth. To me it 
was of no interest how the Government was composed so 
long as the army got what it wanted, and was not asked 
to undertake unsound and impracticable operations. This 
seemed the proper attitude for a soldier to take up, though 
perhaps it was unwise of me to disclose it as openly as I 
did. Sinde the end of the last century the professional 
careers of senior officers of the army have passed by degrees 
entirely into the hands of ministers, and, however necessary 
this system may be, the consequence of it is that, if an 
officer holding a high position shows that he has no political 
leanings one way or the other, he may find himself without 
friends in any political party and be suspected by all. 

It goes without saying that professional advisers should 



THE PROFESSIONAL ADVISER 255 

try their hardest to meet the wishes of ministers, but the 
doctrine is easier stated than practised. In war, especially 
in a long war, things do not proceed on simple and smooth 
lines, but bristle with knots and thorns to an extent quite 
unknown to those who have not experienced them. Profes- 
sional advisers are the servants of the Government, and 
there would be an end of parliamentary government if they 
were able to override Government policy. On the other 
hand, the time may come when a policy is proposed which 
they feel convinced will, if pursued, have disastrous results, 
and they then have to choose between acquiescing in it, 
thereby jeopardising the interests of the nation, and saying 
in unmistakable terms that they can be no party to it. 
More than once when confronted with this dilemma I felt 
it my duty to adopt the second alternative. 

In peace time differences of opinion may be allowed to go 
by the board without great harm being done, as it may be 
possible to adjust them at a more convenient season. In 
war the case is different — chickens remorselessly and rapidly 
come home to roost, errors can seldom be rectified (the enemy 
will see to that), and men's Uves are at stake. 

A minister once tried in the course of conversation to 
persuade me that the duty of a professional adviser begins 
and ends with giving his advice, and that after it has been 
given and ministers have considered it the orders of the 
Government should be carried out without further question 
or remonstrance. I was unable to agree with him as to the 
chief professional adviser, holding that he had a duty to 
the country as well as to ministers, and I said so, though I 
admitted that only special circumstances would justify the 
conclusion that duty to ministers conflicted with duty to 
country and must accordingly take second place. 

It was upon such principles as these that I endeavoured 
to regulate my attitude. Whether they were right or wrong 
the reader must judge for himself, but I have no doubt 
whatever in my own mind that to their cumulative effect 
may be attributed my removal from the post of C.I.G.S. 
in February 19 18, and therefore from the standpoint of 
personal advantage they were obviously wrong. 

Having now cleared the ground by this short account 



256 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

of the military situation at the end of 1915, the reorganisation 
of the General Staff, the arrangements for keeping connected 
up with the Great General Staffs of the AlHes, the methods 
by which the Government conducted its war-business, and 
the relations as between the Government and its professional 
advisers, I will proceed to describe the nature of the work 
with which the General Staff had to deal. 

Sundays excepted, I attended the meeting of the War 
Committee — later the War Cabinet — almost every day, in 
order to elucidate or justify our written recommendations as 
to the military poUcy to be followed, give an account of and 
explain the events of the last twenty-four hours in the 
different theatres of war, and do what I could to prophesy 
the events of the next twenty-four. It was not easy to do 
any of these things, because the reasons which prompted 
a given recommendation or expression of opinion might be 
of a technical nature or be the result of a lifelong study 
of the art of war, and it was not always possible to 
substantiate them off-hand in the course of a discussion in 
which a dozen or more ingenious debaters were taking part. 
I sometimes envied my naval colleague, who, although he 
had similar duties to perform, escaped much of the ex- 
amination and criticism which fell to my lot. Amateurs 
who do not hesitate to lay down the law on questions of 
military strategy and tactics proceed more warily with 
respect to naval operations. They have many opportunities 
for picking up a smattering of military knowledge, whereas 
their acquaintance with naval matters may be Umited to an 
occasional trip to the seaside or a bad attack of sea-sickness 
when crossing the Channel. The sailors do not, as a rule, 
give them much assistance to become more proficient, the 
phraseology they use being so strange and technical that the 
amateur, finding himself to be out of his depth, is only too 
glad to pass on to the discussion of other subjects in which 
his ignorance may not be so apparent. 

The first question to which I had to ask for a clear and 
stable answer from the Government on becoming C.I.G.S. 
was what policy they wished to pursue in each and aU of 
the theatres of war where British troops were employed, as 
upon this depended the action to be taken not only by the 



DEFINITE INSTRUCTIONS 257 

General Staff but by all other branches of the War Office. 
Murray had shortly before submitted a memorandum on 
the subject, but for some reason unknown to me no decision 
had been reached. His views being in general agreement 
with my own, I summed up his main recommendations and 
sent them to the Cabinet for approval on the same day as 
I took up office. I at once received as complete an answer 
as circumstances permitted, and the hearts of the General 
Staff were particularly gladdened by the acceptance of the 
recommendation that, from the British point of view, 
France and Flanders should be regarded as the main theatre 
of operations. So long as this poUcy was adhered to in practice 
all would be well. 

The next step was to ensure that the Commanders-in- 
Chief understood what they were expected to do, and having 
obtained an authoritative pronouncement as to poUcy I was 
able to tell them. I could not discover that they had any 
precise and up-to-date directions of the kind required. They 
had received various telegrams and other communications 
from time to time, and may have been given verbal 
directions, but something more was needed to enable them 
to look ahead, make their plans, and give effect to the 
wishes of the Government in the manner intended. They 
required to be furnished with concrete " Instructions " 
(" Directives " in French) explaining in concise and definite 
language, over the signature of the Secretary of State for 
War on behalf of the Government, the exact nature of their 
mission, and then leaving them to decide as to the method 
of its execution. 

It may be mentioned, too, that besides their obvious use 
to Commanders-in-Chief, these instructions have another 
value. The mere act of putting them into writing for future 
guidance and record tends to lay bare any defects and incon- 
sistencies there may be in the poUcy which they represent, 
and had they been drafted, as they should have been, in all 
cases in 1914-15 some of the projects then undertaken might 
have been consigned to oblivion before they became really 
dangerous. Even if they were not abandoned, there would 
at any rate be no question as to where responsibiHty rested, 
for once a commander receives his instructions it is his own 

s 



258 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

fault if, without remonstrance, he attempts to carry them 
out when of opinion that they are impracticable. 

I next gave attention to the training and organisation 
of the troops, both at home and abroad. Egypt, the base 
for all operations in the Mediterranean, was in a state of 
chaos, and the British and Colonial divisions transferred 
there from the GallipoU Peninsula, together with large 
reinforcements of partially-trained personnel from Australia 
and New Zealand, and other partially-trained drafts for 
GalHpoli and Salonika, constituted an imwieldy accumula- 
tion of some 300,000 men. These had either never yet been 
organised as fighting forces, or their organisation, such as 
it was, required drastic overhauling before proper value 
could be derived from them in the field. The sorting out 
of this medley of troops and the vast jumble of stores, 
transport, and equipment collected for their use, was a 
herculean task for the local mihtary authorities, and will be 
further referred to later. 

At home, again, there were hundreds of thousands of 
men who, for the most part, were without proper organisation 
either for the field or for purposes of training, and in addition 
there was a large number of divisions which as yet were only 
half-trained and half -equipped. Moreover, the number, com- 
position, and distribution of the home defence troops bore 
little relation to the actual situation ; the general plan of 
defence was fundamentally faulty ; and with some com- 
mendable exceptions the defences themselves were insufficient 
and often of unsuitable types. 

For all this no one in particular was to blame. On the 
contrary the War Office, commanders, and troops had 
worked their hardest and best under most adverse conditions. 
It was the natural outcome of having to create large armies 
at short notice, without the assistance of a previously- 
prepared plan, and of being frequently obliged to send 
troops abroad in small packets and on no method save that 
of meeting an urgent need in one of the many theatres in 
which we were fighting. It fell to Lord French, Commander- 
in-Chief in the United Kingdom, to straighten out the tangle 
at home. As I have stated elsewhere, there were previous 
to his appointment on the 19th December 19 15, seven 



MESOPOTAMIA 259 

Commanders-in-Chief at home, each of whom was directly 
under the War Office, thus making with the Commanders- 
in-Chief in France, Salonika, Egypt and Gallipoli, a total of 
eleven commanders with whom the C.I.G.S. had to deal. 
No man could possibly deal with such a number, and I was 
glad that the Government approved of my recommendation 
to unite all troops at home under one commander. 

The organisation of the troops in Mesopotamia and the 
arrangements for the maintenance of the long and precarious 
hne of communication in that country were notoriously bad, 
but with this theatre the General Staff was not directly 
concerned as the operations were conducted by the Govern- 
ment of India under instructions issued by the India Office. 
As I wish to avoid saying anything which might revive the 
controversial question of responsibility for the mismanage- 
ment of the early part of this campaign, I will merely remark 
that a sound system of command is a requisite condition 
of success, and that no worse system could have been 
devised than that of dividing the control of the military 
forces of the Empire between two separate departments 
(India Office and War Office) and two separate army head- 
quarters (Simla and London). British officers can do most 
things, but no human being could have made this vicious 
system work efficiently, and it is no reflection on either the 
India authorities or the India Office to say that it was bound 
to lead to serious trouble, if not to disaster, as unfortun- 
ately it did. 

For some time I hesitated to put my finger into the 
Mesopotamian pie, but as matters seemed to be going from 
bad to worse I was at last compelled to point out to the 
War Committee the impossibility of continuing the existing 
arrangement, and I recommended, with Lord Kitchener's 
concurrence, that both operative and administrative control 
should be taken over by the War Office and be dealt with 
by it as in the case of all other campaigns. After some 
discussion the recommendation was accepted and the change 
took effect in the month of February 1916. As an illustra- 
tion of the disadvantages incurred by different campaigns 
being conducted by different State departments, I may say 
that, previous to this change, neither the Imperial General 



26o FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Staff nor the Army Council were entitled to communicate 
direct with the military authorities in India. All correspond- 
ence of importance had to pass through the India Office — 
the department responsible to the Home Government. 

Another, and perhaps the most complicated, problem 
awaiting solution was that of man-power. In July 1915 
the National Registration Act had been passed, and in accord- 
ance with it every person in Great Britain — Ireland being 
excluded — between the ages of 16 and 65 years had been 
registered. This was a useful and necessary preliminary 
to any legislation for universal service, but it was no more 
than that. Later, the " Derby Scheme " had been introduced 
so as to give the voluntary system of recruiting its last 
chance, its distinctive features being that men " attested " 
their wiUingness to join the army when wanted, and they 
then entered a so-caUed reserve where they remained 
undisturbed in their civil employment until called up. 
This produced good results at first but soon began to 
dwindle away, and by the end of 19 15 it was quite clear, 
notwithstanding the wonders hitherto achieved under Lord 
Kitchener's inspiration, that the voluntary system was 
fast breaking down and must be replaced by compulsory 
measures. To the procuring of these I forthwith directed 
my energies. 

No plan for substituting such measures had as yet been 
thoroughly considered, and the hard fact that the entire 
manhood of the nation would have to be utilised in the 
prosecution of the war, either in the fighting services or on 
other work of an essential kind, and utiUsed in an appropriate 
way, was, so far as my knowledge goes, still insufficiently 
recognised by any one in the Government with the possible 
exception of Lord Kitchener. I shall show presently that, 
for practical purposes, it never was recognised until the 
enemy made his last throw for victory in March 1918, and 
then the recognition was perilously near to being too late. 

It was, perhaps, not surprising that, as late as December 
1915, the important question of man-power had not yet 
been dealt with in a comprehensive manner. For several 
months after the outbreak of hostihties the beUef had 
prevailed that the war would soon be over, and in the 



MAN-POWER 261 

meantime shoals of men had come forward, voluntarily, as 
quickly as they could be handled. Even when this belief 
began to weaken, it was supposed that the only problem 
was the provision of an additional number of men for the 
army alone. ** Business as usual " was still far from being 
dead, and when it was suggested that certain trades 
unconnected with the war might be discontinued, the reply 
was that an " awful outcry *' would be raised. Moreover, 
ministers had, as a result of our general unpreparedness, 
been overwhelmed Avith other work, and some of them did 
not even know how many divisions had already been formed, 
let alone how many we might eventually want. I had 
several informal conversations with ministers, including Mr. 
Asquith and Mr. McKenna, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
during my first few days in London, and their common 
complaint against the soldiers was that they could get from 
them no definite and reliable opinion. It was evident to me 
that, whatever had been the case before, they were now more 
than anxious to have the advice of the General Staff as to 
what was to be done, and I made up my mind that on this 
score they should have no further ground for dissatisfaction. 

Besides three cavalry divisions we had on the army 
books a total of seventy British infantry divisions, thirty- 
five being in France, others in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and 
Macedonia, and the remainder in different stages of formation 
at home. It was essential that the latter, except such as 
were required for home defence, should be completed with 
personnel and sent to the front as soon as possible, and that 
men should also be provided to meet the great expansion 
contemplated in heavy artillery, machine-guns, aeroplanes, 
mechanical transport, railways, tunnelling companies, and 
numerous other units outside the divisions. In addition, 
there must be sufficient reserves to make good the wastage 
caused by sickness and battle, and finally, after making 
provision to meet all these demands, it would be necessary 
to consider whether any further divisions should be raised, 
and if so, how many. 

It was the business of the General Staff to advise on 
these matters from the standpoint of mifitary policy, and 
it then rested with the Ad jut ant- General, after a decision 



262 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

had been reached, to obtain the number of men authorised. 
How many men could be spared for the army was of course 
for the Government and not for the War Office to say, as 
men were also needed for the navy, shipbuilding, food- 
production, munitions, industries, and many other services 
connected with the war. On the 27th December, four days 
after I became C.I.G.S., the General Staff views on man- 
power were laid before the Cabinet, and shortly after- 
wards the whole question was investigated by a " Cabinet 
Committee on the co-ordination of military and financial 
effort." At the back of my mind I had the intention of 
obtaining at least two milHon men in addition to the two 
and a half milhons recruited since August 19 14. How many 
more might be required later could not yet be foreseen. 

The investigation was particularly exhaustive respecting 
the actual needs of the army, and the effect which these 
needs, if met, might have on trade and consequently on 
finance. If trade were crippled then money would become 
short, in which case we might be unable either to maintain 
the existing divisions or to continue giving subsidies to our 
Allies, and there were those who feared that bankruptcy 
was already in sight. 

Trade and finance lay outside the War Office sphere and 
were dealt with in the evidence suppUed by the Board of 
Trade and Treasury, but I cannot help remarking that the 
views held by experts on the relation of finance to war seem 
to call for revision. Before 1914 it was frequently said, 
and on high authority sometimes, that future wars would 
be of short duration, if not entirely prevented, because of 
the financial strain and the general dislocation of com- 
merce which they would entail. This prophecy was not 
borne out by the Great War, though I would hesitate to 
guess what may yet be the outcome of the colossal expen- 
diture incurred in it. I am so profoundly ignorant of financial 
strategy and tactics — never having had the wherewithal to 
indulge in them — that I cannot even understand why pubUc 
servants hke myself should pay income tax on their salaries 
months before the same tax is collected from the business 
community. 

It would have assisted the other departments, as some 



" MILITARY SERVICE ACT " 263 

of them said, if a specific estimate of the number of divisions 
required to win the war could have been made by the War 
Office, but no such calculation was feasible, and the posi- 
tion I took up before the committee was that, owing to the 
world-wide character of the war, it was impossible to say 
how many men would eventually be required. In other 
words, I argued that we could not hope to win through on 
any basis of limited liabihty, and that the only limit we 
were justified in accepting was the last available man. 
From this position I never budged, and perhaps was some- 
times thought to be obstinate and unreasonable, but the 
situation was much too grave to permit of watering down 
considered opinions in the vain endeavour to make things 
easier. To have shown any such weakness would have 
been tantamount to a betrayal of the trust reposed in me 
by virtue of the office I held. The committee gave me a 
very patient hearing, as they did aU other War Office 
representatives, but the first results, the passing of the 
" Mihtary Service Act " on the 27th of January 19 16, were 
disappointing, as the Act rendered liable to military service 
only those men who were unmarried or widowers having 
no dependent children. 

The inadequate scope of this half-baked measure, and 
the ease with which its provisions enabled military obHga- 
tions to be evaded, were apparent from the first, and after 
further investigation by the committee the Bill was ex- 
tended, in May 1916, to include married men and widowers 
with dependent children. The amended Bill still excluded 
Ireland, and in other respects was not as comprehensive 
and as free from hampering conditions as could have been 
desired, but it was a great step in advance, for it ensured 
a more reliable flow of recruits from Great Britain ; it 
estabhshed the principle, if it did not wholly enforce it, of 
national service until the end of the war ; and, thanks to it, 
close upon 1,200,000 men were obtained during 19 16 out 
of the two millions I had set out to get. 

When at the commencement of the enquiry I tried to 
convince Lord Kitchener that we must resort to all-round 
compulsory service he was not inclined to agree with me. 
This was only natural, as he had been marvellously success- 



264 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

ful in obtaining volunteers for the New Armies he had 
formed, and he hoped to finish the war without applying 
compulsion, especially as regards married men. Moreover, 
in his dealings with the representatives of Labour he had 
apparently promised, either by word or implication, not to 
apply it until it became absolutely necessary, if they would 
co-operate with him, as I believe they invariably did, in 
obtaining men under the Derby Scheme, and he was anxious 
not to appear guilty of a breach of faith. 

But the chief reason which induced him to hold back 
was, I believe, the desire to conserve sufficient reserves to 
deal the finishing blow in the war when the psychological 
moment arrived. " Don't try to hurry things so," he would 
say when I was urging my view of the case. " What we 
should aim at is to have the largest army in Europe when 
the terms of peace are being discussed, and that will not be 
in 1916 but in 1917." Eventually he agreed with me that, 
owing to the increased demands by new services (tanks, 
aeroplanes, heavy guns, etc.), to the gradual decline of the 
voluntary S37stem, and to the time it would take to start a 
new system and train the men produced by it, the intro- 
duction of compulsory measures could no longer be delayed, 
and thenceforward he whole-heartedly supported them. 

He has been blamed for not introducing them in 1914, 
and no doubt if this had been done our man-power resources 
could have been tapped by scientific and equitable methods, 
and much discontent and disturbance of industry would 
have been avoided. We would not, for instance, have 
depleted the country of skilled engineers by placing them 
in the trenches, from which they had later to be withdrawn 
for employment in ship - building yards and munition- 
shops. But these were matters for the Government and 
not merely for the Secretary of State for War, who was 
concerned only with the army. Moreover, the necessary 
registration and legislation would have taken a considerable 
time to carry out and there was not an hour to lose, and 
much opposition might have been encountered had an 
attempt been made to introduce compulsion before the 
voluntary system was seen to be inadequate. 

In confirmation of this I may say that when the Cabinet 



COMPULSORY SERVICE 265 

enquiry was being held there were, to my personal know- 
ledge — and quite irrespective of the opinions that may or 
may not have been held by members of the Cabinet, regard- 
ing which I shall say nothing — far more prominent public 
men outside the Cabinet who doubted the wisdom of in- 
troducing compulsion than is generally supposed. Some of 
these maintained, amongst other objections, that the addi- 
tional men procurable would not be worth the public dis- 
content the change would create, and would be more than 
outweighed by the additional troops required for the pre- 
servation of internal order ; while as to Ireland, it was 
said that the attempt to apply compulsion would inevitably 
produce a rebellion. As we now know these forebodings 
proved to be without foundation, though it should be added 
that as the Bill was not made applicable to Ireland the 
fancied danger of rebellion there was not incurred. 

Personally, I doubt if any such danger really existed, and 
as is weU known the rebellion, so-called, which occurred in 
Easter week did not represent any considerable element in 
Irish life as a whole, and was condemned by the greater 
part of Ireland as indignantly as by England. As there was 
at the time no Commander-in-Chief of the usual status in the 
country, the task of restoring order was confided by the 
Government to Lieutenant-General Sir John Maxwell, who 
had recently returned from Egypt, and I sent Lieutenant- 
Colonel Hutchison with him as his Chief of the General 
Staff. Maxwell had a difficult and distasteful duty to 
perform, as aU soldiers have when called upon to use force 
against their fellow-subjects, and I am sure that he honestly 
tried to carry it out in accordance with the letter and spirit 
of his instructions. In Dublin, where the rebellion started, 
severe street fighting lasted for several days, about 100 
soldiers and 180 civilians being killed. There were also 
outbreaks in Galway, Wexford, and Drogheda, but these 
were less serious, and the National Volunteers, composed 
of Irishmen, helped to suppress them. 

To revert to the question of man-power. It was fre- 
quently suggested to me during 19 16 that the country was 
still imperfectly informed of the dimensions of the struggle 
in which we were engaged, and that it longed to have the 



266 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

facts of the case plainly put before it. To speak in public, 
however, did not properly lie within my province, and I 
never spoke without obtaining the consent of the Secretary 
of State for War, and until convinced that it was my duty 
to speak. On those occasions when I felt it necessary to 
speak I was, with one exception, listened to with earnest 
attention, and no will deny that the country invariably 
showed the greatest readiness to comply with the ever- 
increasing demands made upon it. 

The exception was at a meeting held at Woolwich 
Arsenal, which I had been requested to attend by the 
Ministry of Munitions. I had no sooner entered the room 
than I found that I was not wanted. I told the men that 
I had come at some inconvenience to myself and purely as 
a matter of duty, and that if they did not wish to hear me 
I would go away. Their leaders appealed to them to keep 
order, and as it had no effect I walked off the platform and 
returned to London. I discovered afterwards, to my 
astoni^ment, that some labour question was in dispute at 
the time between the men and the Ministry of Mtmitions, 
and that they had gone to the meeting to hear what the 
minister who accompanied me had to say, and for that 
purpose alone. Naturally, therefore, they did not wish to 
waste time in listening to me. 

Connected with man-power was the question of providing 
a sufficient number of officers to keep pace with the ex- 
pansion of the army and to make good wastage. The 
casualties amongst officers had amounted in 1914 to about 
5700, and in 1915 to about 23,260, and it was expected that 
the number would be much larger in 1916, as several more 
divisions were to be put in the field. As early as the winter 
of 19 14-15 G.H.Q. in France received complaints from 
regimental commanders that many of the officers sent from 
England were quite untrained, and instead of being a help 
were an actual danger to the men they had to lead. This 
was due to the fact that they had received their commis- 
sions straight from civil life before undergoing any military 
training. At the time a considerable number of men from 
the ranks were being recommended for commissions, and 
in order to give them some little instruction in the duties 




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CADET BATTALIONS 267 

of an officer before appointing them to commissions the 
Commander-in-Chief ordered a Cadet School to be formed 
at Bailleul, the Artists Rifles — ^which had belonged to the 
Officers* Training Corps in peace time — being used for the 
purpose. The results were satisfactory, and in the spring 
of 19 15 the school was transferred to near St. Omer and 
enlarged to deal with about 100 cadets at a time. The 
demand for officers was at first so heavy that only six 
weeks could be allotted to each class, but this was later 
extended to a course of three months, and it included ex- 
perience in the fighting line. Instruction was given in all 
branches of training required by a platoon commander. 

When I became C.I.G.S. the only sources, apart from 
the Cadet School in France, from which officers with some 
previous training were obtainable, were Sandhurst, Woolwich, 
the Honourable Artillery Company, the Inns of Court and 
Artists Rifles contingents of the Officers* Training Corps, 
and the Officers' Training Corps of the imiversities. The 
staffs of these Training Corps had not the necessary know- 
ledge to train officers up to the required standard, and, 
moreover, as the demand had quite outstripped the supply, 
commissions were still being given to men coming direct from 
civil life. I therefore obtained Lord Kitchener's consent to 
organise at home a number of cadet battahons similar to 
the one which had given such good results in France, and 
in the month of February I brought Lieutenant-Colonel 
Hutchison to the War Office to superintend their organisa- 
tion and training, he having been charged with the same 
duty when I was in France. Twelve cadet battalions were 
formed, each consisting of about 500 cadets ; the course 
was one of three months, and the cadets had to pass 
an examination before receiving their commissions. Each 
battalion had a permanent training establishment of about 
30 officers and from 80 to 100 other ranks, most of whom 
had had experience in the field. 

The casualties amongst officers in all theatres rose from 
23,260 in 1915 to 41,610 in 1916, and to 51,960 in 1917. (It 
will be understood that these are gross, not nett, figures, and 
include the wounded and sick who returned to duty after 
recovery.) To meet this increased wastage the number of 



268 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

cadet battalions had to be enlarged, and included cavalry, 
artillery, engineers, and army service corps, as well as 
infantry. The battalions were commanded by some of our 
best officers, full of energy and enthusiasm, and they 
answered their purpose so well that not only were the 
losses at the front made good but at the beginning of 1918 
there was a reserve of about 10,000 officers at home. It 
was fortunate that we had this reserve to fall back upon in 
the critical months of April and May of that year. In all, 
more than 84,000 officers were supplied by the battalions 
during the war. 

The General Staff had also to deal with the shortage of 
junior officers fit for employment on the staff. To meet 
this need in France we had started a staff school at St. 
Omer in 19 15, and early in 19 16 I formed one at Cambridge 
university under Lieutenant-Colonel R. Hare. The school 
was expanded in 1917, and a side to teach more senior staff 
officers was added to it. 

Another new organisation introduced in 1916 was the 
Tank Corps, which in the earlier stages of its existence was 
recruited from selected officers and men transferred from 
other units, and was designated the " Heavy Branch Machine 
Gun Corps." 

The official trial of the first tank, known as " Mother," 
took place in Hatfield Park early in February, Mr. Balfour 
(First Lord of the Admiralty), Mr. M'Kenna, Lord Kitchener, 
myself, and several other officials being present. Opinion 
was by no means unanimous that the machine would prove 
suitable for employment in battle, and it was in fact much 
inferior to the type evolved later ; but before we left the 
ground Lord Kitchener agreed to my proposal that a hundred 
should be ordered at once. In the following September 
about fifty tanks took part in the battle of the Somme. 
As in the case of all new inventions, the best value was not 
derived from the tank until the troops learnt how to use it, 
the chief difficulty being to obtain effective co-operation 
between the three arms — tanks, artillery, and infantry, and 
for this time and experience were required. 

The War Office has been accused of obstructing the pro- 
vision of tanks, and perhaps those who made the accusation 



EVACUATION OF GALLIPOLI 269 

did not quite realise all the difficulties which attend the 
starting of a new service and a new means of making war, 
and that these were accentuated in the case of the Tank 
Corps because of the shortage of men and steel. To divert 
men from the other arms and services — who were incessantly 
clamouring for personnel either to make good wastage or 
for purposes of expansion — so as to provide men to make 
and man tanks, of whose utihty many officers, at the 
front as at home, were still unconvinced, was not a decision 
to be lightly taken : while as regards steel it was laid down, 
not by the War Office but by the authorities responsible 
for assessing the order of " priority," that the building of 
tanks should not be permitted to interfere with the output 
of guns, ammunition, aeroplanes, mechanical transport, and 
locomotives. Having made this explanation I should add 
that the great reputation eventually won, and deserved, by 
the tank as a formidable and indispensable fighting machine, 
is the more creditable to those who, in the face of adverse 
circumstances, were concerned in its production. 

On a previous page I have said that the evacuation of 
Helles in the Galhpoli Peninsula was still under considera- 
tion at the end of 1915. Since September the Government 
had been imdecided what course to pursue in regard to 
the Dardanelles, and early in October I had been summoned 
from France to advise. I recommended cutting our losses, 
and said that although evacuation must necessarily be 
attended with difficulty and risk it ought nevertheless to 
be a feasible operation provided that careful arrangements 
were made, especially with respect to secrecy. Later, 
General Sir Charles Monro was sent out to command and 
to advise, and he was followed by Lord Kitchener, who 
was to give a final decision. Eventually, in the third week 
of December, Anzac and Suvla were evacuated, but the 
question as to whether Helles, at the toe of the peninsula, 
should or should not be retained still remained to be settled. 

The open confession of failure involved by complete 
evacuation was unpalatable to ministers, and some of them 
thought that we should lose prestige in the eyes of the 
eastern world, and so make further trouble for ourselves 
there ; some of the soldiers thought that Egypt would be 



270 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

seriously threatened by the hberation of the Turkish troops 
hitherto contained in the peninsula ; the sailors, for reasons 
not very convincing, were mainly in favour of continued 
occupation ; while the withdrawal and re-embarkation of a 
force of 40,000 men, 150 guns, 4500 horses, and a vast 
quantity of stores was undoubtedly beset with enormous 
risks. Much more so than the withdrawal from Anzac and 
Suvla, for the hostile forces would be relatively stronger, 
surprise would be improbable, and bad weather would be 
more likely. It was impossible to say what our losses might 
not be, for apart from the uncertainty of what the enemy 
might do or omit to do, much depended upon the extent 
to which weather interfered with the operation. Some of 
the of&cers on the spot thought we might lose as much as 
thirty per cent of the force. 

But, after all, the main question was what useful purpose 
would be served by keeping a detachment at Helles, now 
that the troops had been withdrawn from Anzac and Suvla ? 
Clearly there was none, and to continue hanging on to the 
place merely because we were afraid to leave it, was not 
only a waste of men but would be a constant source of 
anxiety. 

On the 28th of December, five days after becoming 
C.I.G.S., I placed before the War Committee a memo- 
randum drafted for me by Callwell, who was acquainted 
with my views, advocating the immediate and total evacua- 
tion of the peninsula. Lord Kitchener supported the 
recommendation, evacuation was approved, the necessary 
orders were despatched the same day, and by the 8th of 
January the operation had been completed, the only 
casualties being one man hit by a spent bullet and three men 
accidentally injured while embarking. Nearly all the guns 
were brought away, but some 500 animals had to be left 
behind. To extricate about 40,000 men in face of greatly 
superior forces, almost without a single mishap, was a per- 
formance which redounds to the credit of all soldiers and 
sailors who took part in it. Maude, with the headquarters 
of his division, the 13th, was one of the last to leave. This 
division had previously taken part in the withdrawal from 
Suvla and was afterwards sent to relieve a tired division at 



KUT-EL-AMARA 271 

Helles. Much of the credit for the retirement therefore 
belongs to it and its fine commander. 

Having got rid of this commitment, my next desire was 
to send as many divisions as could be spared from Egypt, 
where the Gallipoli troops had been disembarked, to join the 
armies on the West Front, and to send back to the same front 
certain reinforcements which had been directed to proceed 
thence to Egypt just before I became C.I.G.S. Orders to 
this effect were issued, and within a short time the divisions 
were on their way to France. 

Kut-el-Amara, in Mesopotamia, was a more difficult 
problem than Helles, for in this case we could not with- 
draw. We must first fight, and fight hard, and the adminis- 
trative arrangements in this theatre were so defective 
that it was almost impossible to make a satisfactory 
plan for the fighting and at the same time be reasonably 
certain of relieving the garrison before it was starved 
into surrender. Exactly what could be done depended 
almost entirely upon the output of the line of communication, 
and this was doubtful in the extreme. The line was of 
great length — some 500 miles along the river — imperfectly 
organised in itself and at the base, and the amount of river 
transport was not nearly sufficient to convey the available 
troops to the front, supply them when there with food 
and ammunition, and maintain them in reasonable comfort 
and health. This lamentable shortage of river-craft ham- 
pered, in fact, the whole operation, and at the best must 
take a considerable time to remedy. 

It has been said with much truth that a line of com- 
munication is the main artery along which flows the life- 
blood of the army in front, and that if any congestion or 
rupture occurs the whole military body becomes sick and 
may even die. Before any attempt had been made to 
advance as far as Baghdad every precaution should have 
been taken to estabUsh a fine of commimication which would 
be not only good but very good. Our own history had fur- 
nished dozens of examples in proof of this — one being Lord 
Kitchener's advance to Khartoum — but they do not seem 
to have been remembered. 

Three attempts were made to relieve Kut-el-Amara, 



272 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

respectively beginning on the 4th of January, the 8th of 
March, and the 6th of April, and all failed, although one 
at least might perhaps have succeeded had everything gone 
smoothly and as expected. This seldom happens in war, 
and it did not happen at Kut-el-Amara, and in the last 
week of April the garrison of 2970 British and 6000 native 
troops, including followers, was compelled to surrender, after 
gallantly holding out under the most trying conditions for 
nearly five months. Thus was exacted the inevitable 
penalty for allowing operations to develop without any 
settled policy ; without making proper preparations and 
providing sufficient means to attain the object in view ; 
and without taking sufficiently into account what the 
enemy might do in order to frustrate that object. 

The original purpose of the campaign had been the 
seizure of the Persian Gulf water-way up to the point where 
navigation for ocean-going vessels ceases, and the protection 
of the Karun oil-fields. Incidentally, the operation would 
exercise a useful effect on the tribes around the Gulf, and 
as no large force was required and the troops themselves 
were to some extent not suitable for employment in Europe, 
the campaign as at first intended may be regarded as justi- 
fiable. But to enlarge its scope by attempting to capture 
and permanently occupy Baghdad was, at the time the 
attempt was made, not within the limits of our means, and 
I happen to know that Lord Kitchener dissented from it, 
lajdng special emphasis on the disadvantages of the long 
and imperfect fine of communication. (As previously men- 
tioned, the campaign was being conducted at this period 
under the auspices of the India Office and not of the War 
Office, and therefore Lord Kitchener may have thought 
that he could do no more than express his disapproval of 
the decision.) 

As in the case of the final evacuation of the GallipoH 
Peninsula, it was thought that the fall of Kut-el-Amara would 
create serious disquiet, if nothing worse, in the Muhammadan 
countries adjacent to India; but happily, as with Gallipoli, 
it did nothing of the kind, and the prophecy I heard made 
that our eastern empire would be shaken to its foundations 
remained unfulfilled. I think we need to correct our ideas 



ORIENTAL PRESTIGE 273 

a little on the matter of prestige, as we call it. Prestige, no 
doubt, carries much weight in eastern countries, but in war 
it is apt to become a bogy, and to scare away the timid 
from doing what is clearly the right thing to do, or, what 
may prove to be worse, frighten them into a dissipation 
of strength in the vain endeavour to be safe ever5rwhere 
at the same time. Years ago, when means of communica- 
tion were few and slow, and education had not spread to its 
present dimensions, the eastern people knew little about 
the might of the British Empire and unimpaired prestige 
may then have been a necessity, but at the present day 
they are fairly shrewd judges of a situation, and may be 
trusted to appreciate a temporary set-back at something 
like its proper value. 

This does not mean that the question can be entirely 
neglected. Orientals are as susceptible as other nations to 
the enemy's wiles and propaganda. In the early part of 
1916 enemy agents were overrunning Persia and Trans- 
Caspia, and were also to be found in Afghanistan and at 
other places on the borders of India, spreading abroad 
the most ludicrous stories concerning the war and the 
imminent downfall of the British Empire, and backing up 
their statements with a plentiful distribution of promises 
and hard cash. To counteract these mischievous proceed- 
ings no effective steps had been taken, and the enemy was 
having things entirely his own way. The remedy did not 
He, as was sometimes suggested, in sending packets of troops, 
varying from battalions to brigades, to " show the flag " 
or to support some professedly loyal chief, and without 
thinking of what it might ultimately cost to keep the same 

flag flj^ng. 

The General Staff had to resist more than one suggestion 
of this kind whilst I was C.I.G.S., and it was not an easy 
task, for they usually emanated from the " man on the 
spot," who is too frequently thought to be the most com- 
petent judge, whereas his outlook is often narrow and his 
advice by no means always the best to follow. What 
was needed was to despatch to the centres of intrigue and 
disaffection a few EngHshmen of the right type to give 
our version of the state of affairs, furnish them with money 

T 



274 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

to pay handsomely for intelligence and other services 
rendered, and provide them with just sufficient escort to 
ensure their personal safety. On the advice of the General 
Staff measures of this kind were initiated, and in a short 
time matters assumed a different aspect. Of course, the 
best way of thwarting the enemy's designs and of making 
our position permanently secure was to give the Turks in 
Mesopotamia a sound beating, and arrangements for this 
were put in train. 

Lieutenant-General Sir Percy Lake commanded in this 
theatre between January and August 19 16, and was then 
succeeded by Maude, who had gone to Mesopotamia with 
his division from Egypt early in the year and had subse- 
quently been in command of an army corps. When the 
question of a successor to Sir Percy was being considered 
by the Government, I had no hesitation in recommending 
that Maude should be given the appointment, and although 
no exception was taken to him no particular desire was 
shown to select him, one reason for this probably being that 
the officers whose names were mentioned as alternatives 
were much better known to the ministers with whom the 
decision rested. Maude was, in fact, almost entirely un- 
known to them at the time, and therefore it was the more 
gratifying to me that in the end Mr. Asquith accepted my 
recommendation . 

I was quite ready to accept responsibility for it. I 
knew that Maude possessed a high standard of honour, a 
qualification without which, and historical exceptions not- 
withstanding, no man is fit to hold an important command. 
I also knew that he was careful of the interests of his men, 
held sound views on tactical and strategical questions, 
recognised the value of good organisation, and in every 
way seemed to be the ideal man to clear up the Mesopotamian 
muddle and give the Turks a thrashing into the bargain. How 
well he justified his selection is one of the most brilliant 
chapters in the history of the Great War. Wisely devoting 
his energies first to the improvement of the abominable line 
of communication and the training and organisation of 
his troops, he patiently laboured and waited until his pre- 
parations were sufficiently good to justify an advance, and 



MAUDE IN MESOPOTAMIA 275 

when all was ready he struck with such skill and vigour 
that in less than three months the enemy was completely 
defeated. Kut-el-Amara was recaptured in February 1917 
with more than 2000 prisoners, and on the nth of March 
Maude entered Baghdad at the heels of the flying Turks and 
chased them north along the line of the German railway. 

Some months later we received many reports indicating 
the concentration of large hostile forces about Mosul, but 
they were probably circulated for the express purpose of 
inducing us to send reinforcements from other theatres, 
and whatever truth there may have been in them (there 
was httle or none) they did not seriously disturb the minds 
of the General Staff. Having at last estabUshed a reasonably 
good line of communication, and enjoying the assistance of 
Monro (Commander-in-Chief in India since October 19 16) 
and the Indian authorities in general, we felt that we could 
safely leave the rest to Maude. His death from cholera on 
the i8th of November 1917 was a great loss to the Empire 
and to aU those many comrades by whom he was both 
admired and beloved. Before the Great War he had served 
with distinction in Egypt, South Africa, Canada, and at 
home, and he left behind him a name for devotion to duty 
and uprightness of character that will endure for all time 
in the annals of the British army. 

Murray in Egypt, Hke Maude in Mesopotamia, had much 
spade work to do in connection with the organisation, 
equipment, and training of his troops before he could dispose 
of the Turks lying east of the Suez Canal. One wonders 
why these essential matters had been permitted to get into 
such an unsatisfactory state, and in all theatres except 
France, for every soldier possessing a rudimentary know- 
ledge of his profession is aware of their importance. The 
reason was that whereas our pre-war preparations for offen- 
sive action had been based on a scale not exceeding the 
employment of some half-dozen divisions, we had, in 
addition to sharing on the West Front in the greatest con- 
flict the world has ever known, become engaged in five other 
campaigns, all of which were of considerable magnitude. 
These commitments would have taxed the resources and 
ingenuity of the most perfectly prepared nation, and in 



276 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

our case they were bound to lead to confusion, and, if 
nothing worse, be unproductive of useful results for a long 
time to come. 

Murray's task was the harder because the normal organi- 
sation of the divisions which had returned from Gallipoli 
had been dislocated when they were sent there. A variety 
of personnel, animals, vehicles, etc., not required in Galli- 
poH were then left behind in Egypt and these had of necessity 
been meanwhile sent to the western frontier of the country 
or elsewhere, and were still absent, hundreds of miles away, 
when the divisions returned to Egypt. They had to be 
collected or replaced before the divisions could be recon- 
structed. 

A further disadvantage was that at first Murray was not 
sole master in Egypt. When he was sent there at the end 
of 1915, on being succeeded by me as C.I.G.S., it was decided 
that he should command only the troops operating in the 
vicinity of the Suez Canal, and that the remainder should 
continue under the orders of Maxwell, who had previously 
commanded the whole. On hearing of this decision when 
I went to the War Office I represented to Lord Kitchener 
that it was impracticable, but he was anxious to retain 
Maxwell because of his unique experience in Egyptian 
matters, and as he would agree neither to put Murray under 
Maxwell nor Maxwell under Murray two kings of Brent- 
ford were set up. Both Generals tried their hardest to 
make the system work, but within a few weeks both were 
forced to say that it was an impossible one and ought to be 
discontinued. In March, Maxwell returned to England and 
Murray assumed command of all the troops. 

The operations in Egypt, as in other theatres, were also 
hampered by the lack of war material, and Murray was 
usually worse off in this respect than other Commanders-in- 
Chief, for as the output was still much below the sum of 
our requirements he frequently had to go short in order that 
the more pressing needs of other fronts might be satisfied. 
In spite of these adverse conditions, and of having to build 
a broad-gauge railway as he advanced, and lay down a 
great pipe-line, with pumping stations, to bring fresh water 
from Egypt for his troops, he drove the Turks out of the 



MACEDONIA 277 

Sinai Peninsula before the end of the year and thus put a 
stop to further hostile designs in this quarter. He also 
effectually cleared the Senussi out of the oases of the western 
deserts of Egypt. 

Of the campaign in Macedonia there is little to be said, 
except that for about three years it absorbed a large Entente 
force which contributed nothing material to the winning of 
the war, beyond detaining two or three German divisions 
of inferior quality, and a number of Bulgarian divisions 
who would probably have objected to serve outside the 
Balkan Peninsula. This is a hard statement to make, 
remembering the privations and sickness our troops experi- 
enced and the fine work they performed in the offensive 
of September 19 18, but the fact remains that the Bulgars 
were defeated on the West Front and not in Macedonia. 
They had been at war since 1912, were exhausted, and 
reahsed that their side was beaten before the offensive began. 
Practically the only good point about the campaign was 
that it enabled the Entente to use Serb and Greek troops 
whom it might have been dif&cult to employ elsewhere. 
The total Entente force in Macedonia was usually much 
stronger than the enemy, numbering at one time about 
650,000 men as against some 450,000 Germans and Bulgars, 
and the bad strategy which caused this situation had the 
result of creating frequent discussions as to what could be 
done to improve matters. 

Scarcely a month passed in which some fresh plan was 
not proposed by one or other of the countries interested 
— Russia, France, Serbia, Greece, Italy, and ourselves. At 
one time it would be a question of increasing the force 
either for offensive or defensive purposes ; at another of 
reducing it so as to discontinue the waste of troops who 
were doing nothing and could do nothing, and were badly 
needed elsewhere ; at another of coming away altogether. 
No one poHcy held the field for more than a few weeks, and 
this is not to be wondered at, seeing there was no hope of 
achieving anything decisive by such offensive operations as 
were feasible, while on the other hand there were reasons 
why the force could neither be withdrawn nor reduced. 

As might be expected, the enemy exploited the position 



278 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

to his own advantage, and frequently spread false reports 
of his intention to make a preponderating attack and drive 
the Allies into the sea. What was worse, the reports 
sometimes had the desired effect of inducing the Allied 
Governments to reinforce this front at the expense of the 
West Front, and so use up shipping which could have 
been more profitably employed in other ways, and at the 
same time that shipping became an additional target for 
submarine attack. Nothing pleased the enemy more than 
to see the Allies add to the number of their troops in 
this theatre, which he facetiously described as the "entente 
internment camp.'' I remember that considerable excite- 
ment once prevailed because Falkenha}^!, who had recently 
ceased to be the Chief of the German General Staff, was 
reported to have arrived in Macedonia, and although the 
British General Staff discredited the rumour some of the 
AUies insisted that it was true. Later, the Falkenhajm 
turned out to be a major having a somewhat similar name 
who was the German military attach^ in Greece. 

The Macedonian campaign was the more difficult to 
conduct because of the mixture of nationaUties in the Allied 
forces, for although General Sarrail was theoretically in 
supreme command of the whole, no important measure could 
be taken without reference to the Governments concerned. 
The entire campaign, in fact, was compUcated and tiresome, 
and more conferences were held, either at London or in 
France, in regard to it than to any other mihtary question. 
Even when it did not figiure in the agenda it invariably 
obtruded itself before the conference dispersed, and it is 
no exaggeration to say that at one period it made more 
demands on the time and temper of ministers and their 
naval and mihtary advisers than all the other campaigns 
put together. Fortunately for the General Staff we had a 
very level-headed General, Milne, in command of the British 
contingent, upon whom we could always rely to give a 
soimd opinion and make the best use of the troops he had. 
Milne was an old comrade of mine, having served with me 
on Lord Roberts' staff in South Africa, and under me in 
the Intelligence Division at the War Office when in charge 
of the Balkans section. 



GENERAL SMUTS 279 

Throughout the war, ministers never seemed able to 
understand, what educated soldiers well know, that the 
employment of troops of different armies in the same 
operation is attended with many difficulties and complica- 
tions, and that the aggregate fighting value of the force is 
thereby reduced to a corresponding degree. Military salads 
of this kind are sometimes justifiable and may be imavoidable, 
but it must be remembered that the mere counting of heads 
may give quite a wrong impression of the capabilities of the 
force, and that the appointment of an Allied Commander- 
in-Chief does not entirely remove the disadvantages in- 
curred, though in some respects it may perhaps mitigate 
them. 

The enemy acted more wisely than we did, either from 
choice or necessity, and kept his different nationaUties on 
separate fronts where they could most conveniently be 
placed and maintained. Thus, there were Germans on the 
West Front, Austrians on the Italian Front, Germans and 
Austrians on different sections of the Russian Front, Bulgars 
in Macedonia, and Turks in Asia. From this principle he 
seldom departed, except for the purpose of temporarily 
stiffening a wobbling ally, or of providing for a special 
operation the requisite reinforcements which could not be 
found in any other manner. 

In East Africa the campaign had commenced with the 
despatch of an expeditionary force from India to Mombasa 
in August 1914, and at the end of 1915 the position was such 
that the Government decided, just before I became C.I.G.S., 
to send out reinforcements, the bulk of which were to be 
provided by South Africa. Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien was 
appointed to the chief command, but in consequence of 
temporary ill-health he was unable to proceed beyond Cape 
Town, and his place was taken by General Smuts. The 
latter was succeeded at the end of 1916 by General Van 
Dewenter. 

The campaign, though comparatively a minor one, was 
attended by great hardships, owing to the nature and climate 
of the country, the absence of roads, and the distances to 
be covered, while on the other hand the German commander, 
Von Lettow, displayed commendable skill in the way he 



28o FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

employed his troops — mainly native levies — and sustained 
their morale under what must have seemed to them rather 
disheartening conditions. Although the enemy was given 
no rest, first by Smuts and then by Van Dewenter, the 
operations dragged on for a long time, and in the circum- 
stances this could not be avoided. It was a matter of 
patience and perseverance both on the part of commanders 
and troops, and in the end they had their reward. The 
enemy's elusive tactics were gradually worn threadbare, his 
troops were broken up into detachments without cohesion, 
and the last of them were driven from East Africa into 
Portuguese territory in December 1917. 

In an earlier chapter I have mentioned that a Staff 
College training is a great help in war to officers employed on 
the staff or in command of troops, in that it enables them 
to imderstand each other's methods and generally to work 
together easily and efficiently. This advantage is the more 
valuable when intercommunication is limited to the tele- 
graph, and, again, if the officers concerned are not personally 
known to each other. Before the Great War Generals Smuts 
and Van Dewenter were known to me only by name, and as 
they were not only not Staff College graduates but did not 
belong to the British army, I wish to say that from first to 
last I found no difficulty whatever in working with them. 
Their telegrams were models of lucidity and conveyed just 
the information and advice that the General Staff required 
to have, and I trust that the two Generals felt equally 
satisfied at their end of the wire. If they did not I owe them 
a further debt of gratitude, for they invariably interpreted 
the instructions it was my duty to send them in the way in 
which they were intended to be rmderstood. 

On the West Front the most conspicuous events diuring 
19 16 were the battles of Verdim and the Somme. The attack 
on Verdun was a desperate bid to cripple the French armies 
beyond hope of recovery, and lasted from the 21st of February 
to the 1st of July, the opening day of the battle of the Somme, 
which in its turn did not end till the 17th of November. The 
Somme was the first occasion on which our resources in men, 
guns, and ammunition enabled us to start an offensive with 
a reasonable chance of success. They were not entirely as 



THE SOMME 281 

good as could have been desired, but they were infinitely 
superior to anything we had enjoyed before. 

Coupled with the heavy punishment meted out by the 
French at Verdun, who firmly and patiently fought on while 
we completed our preparations, the Somme battle marked 
a definite stage on the road to victory. The final overthrow 
of the enemy was henceforward no longer in doubt, provided 
the Allies resolutely kept up the pressure at the decisive 
point and resisted the temptation to embark on side issues. 
In support of this opinion I shall quote Ludendorff's account 
of the condition of the German armies at the time. He says, 
*' The strain during this year (1916) had proved too great. 
The endurance of the troops had been weakened by long 
spells of defence imder the powerful enemy artillery fire and 
their own losses. We were completely exhausted on the 
Western Front. . . . We now urgently needed a rest. The army 
had been fought to a standstill and was utterly worn out," 
(The italics are mine.) 

But the far-reaching effects of the year's fighting on this 
front were not in all cases appreciated by ministers, some 
of whom asserted that the battle of the Somme had been 
a ghastly failure, and persisted in measuring the amount of 
our success by the kilometres of ground gained, with httle or 
no regard to the moral ascendancy our troops had estabhshed. 
Moreover, although there was plenty of evidence that the 
enemy had suffered heavily, both in men and morale, the 
Allies had themselves sustained great losses, and milhons 
of German troops were yet in the field. On the Eastern 
Front Brusiloff' s celebrated advance had resulted in the 
capture of half a million prisoners and an enormous amount 
of war material, but the Russians had also lost heavily, and 
throughout their ranks the sinister influence of German pro- 
paganda continued to spread with demoralising effect. The 
Rumanians, who had joined the Allies on 28th August, 
had been thrown back from Transylvania and through 
Wallachia, and three whole Russian armies had been sent 
south to save the situation. Finally, the enemy was care- 
ful to play on the fears and nerves of those who, unac- 
quainted with the practical side of war in general and with 
the conditions of the Great War in particular, were apt to 



282 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

give more attention to his cunningly-devised communiques 
than to the importance of strict adherence to sound 
strategical principles. 

In face of these circimistances it was uphill work tr5dng 
to convince some of those with whom I was brought into 
contact that, given perseverance in the right direction, 
victory was assured. Such a statement would be received 
with an impatient shrug of the shoulders as if to say, " We 
have heard the same story scores of times before, and are 
still as far from winning the war as ever we were." As 
might be expected, this dissatisfaction, or disappointment, 
was the most pronounced when the fighting was severe, and 
it would be argued that, as the attacker was more exposed 
to loss in crossing the open than the defender was in his 
dug-out, the right pohcy for us was to assume a defensive 
role and leave the enemy to do the attacking. The whole 
problem appeared to be, so it was said, purely one of 
mathematics. To this I would demur, pointing out that 
although the attacker might at first be the heavier loser 
he might hope to make a good bag later, and that there 
were other things to be taken into account besides figures. 
Armies hke boxers, I would observe, could not possibly win 
battles, and certainly not wars, if they restricted their 
efforts to self-defence and never led off to damage their 
opponents ; the prehminary step to victory was, as always, 
the wearing-down of the enemy's power of resistance, and 
this was not to be achieved without loss. 

Fresh ground would then be taken up by my questioners, 
who would suggest that as Russia had many miUions of men 
at her disposal while we were short of them, she and not we 
ought to undertake the wearing-down business. We could 
provide her with the armament she needed, of which we 
would require less, and incidentally the plan would solve 
our man-power difficulties, leaving a greater number of 
men available for employment in those industries which it 
was essential for financial and other reasons to maintain. 
To this I replied that perhaps Russia might not make such 
good use of the armament as would our own troops, and 
that in any case it would be wise to equip the latter with 
what they still wanted before giving too much away. To 



THE WILL TO WIN 283 

some extent this advice prevailed, but not so far as could 
have been wished, and much of the armament as well as 
other war material sent to Russia was put to indifferent 
use, or not used at all, while some of it, falling into the 
enemy's hands, was eventually used against us on the 
West Front. 

Discussions of this nature were bound to arise, for we 
had suffered imprecedented losses, and it was the duty of 
ministers to consider every means of reducing them in future. 
The case was much more serious when, from the end of 
1916 onwards, a desire was evinced to adopt not only new 
tactics but new strategy — strategy that would find a 
** way round " to victory in place of courting heavy losses 
in trying to achieve what was held to be impossible, the 
defeat of the enemy on the West Front. There, it was said, 
the existing stalemate would continue, and we ought to 
show greater " imagination " in our plans. We were too 
wooden in our ideas and too heavy-footed in our movements. 
" Why go on battering our heads against a brick wall ? 
Why not follow the example of Germany which has been so 
successful in Servia, Russia, and Rumania, and give first a 
punch here and then a punch there ? '* I was once asked, 
while the speaker, suiting the action to the word, struck out 
right and left with his clenched fists against the imaginary 
foe. I could only reply that the conditions were not the 
same, and that although war was certainly not an exact 
science, and had no fixed code of rules, there was in it one 
good working principle — the concentration of superior force 
at the decisive point — which could never be disregarded 
without great risk, and which, if whole-heartedly applied, 
would generally bring success. 

The persistence with which views such as the above were 
pressed forward caused me much anxiety, but consolation 
could always be had from the knowledge that the same 
thing had happened in past wars and that in spite of it we 
had won in the end. That valuable book Ordeal by Battle 
contains some pertinent remarks on this subject, which I 
extracted, kept on my table, and frequently read. I hope 
that the author, Mr. F. S. Oliver, will not object to my 
reproducing them here. They are as follows : 



284 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

As we read and re-read British history we cannot but be 
impressed with the fact that our leading statesmen, misled by 
the very brilliancy of their intellectual endowments, have 
always been prone to two errors of policy which the simpler 
mind of the soldier instinctively avoids. They have ever been 
too ready to conclude prematurely that a certain line of obstacles 
is so formidable that it cannot be forced ; and they have also 
ever been too ready to accept the notion that there must surely 
be some ingenious far way round, by which they may succeed 
in circumventing the infinite. 

The defect of brilliant brains is not necessarily a want of 
courage — daring there has usually been in plenty — but they are 
apt to lack fortitude. They are apt to abandon the assault upon 
positions which are not really invulnerable, and to go off, chasing 
after attractive butterflies, until they fall into quagmires. Dis- 
persion of effort has always been the besetting sin of British 
statesmen and the curse of British policy. There is no clearer 
example of this than the case of WiUiam Pitt the Younger, who 
went on picking up sugar islands all over the world when he ought 
to have been giving his whole strength to beating Napoleon. 

Very few obstacles are really insurmountable, and it is usually 
the shortest and the safest course to stick to what has been 
already begun. Especially is this the case when your resources 
in trained soldiers and munitions of war are painfully restricted. 
At the one point, where you have decided to attack, the motto is 
push hard ; and at all others, where you may be compelled to 
defend yourselves, the motto is hold fast. 

The peril of British war councils in the past has always been 
(and may be still is) the tendency of ingenious argument to get 
the better of sound judgement. In the very opposite of this 
lies safety. We find the true t5^e of high policy, as well as of 
successful campaigning, in the cool and patient inflexibility of 
Wellington, holding fast by one main idea, forcing his way over 
one obstacle after another which had been pronounced invincible 
— through walled cities, into the deep valleys of the Pyrenees, 
across the Bidassoa — till from the crests of the Great Rhune and 
the Little his soldiers looked down at last upon the plains of 
France. 

Further reference to the different plans proposed for 
1917 will be made in the next chapter, but mention should 
be made here of the plan for the West Front drawn up in 
November 1916 at a conference of the Allied Commanders-in- 
Chief held at Chantilly under the presidency of General Joffre, 
and at which I was present. The exhausted condition of 



PLANS FOR 1917 285 

the German armies was not then as well known to us as it 
has since become, but we knew sufficient about it to realise 
the wisdom of taking full advantage of the successes gained 
in the Verdun and Somme campaigns, first by continuing to 
exert pressure on the Somme front, so far as the winter 
season would permit, and secondly by preparing to attack 
the enemy early in 1917, with all the resources that could 
be made available, before he had had time to recover from 
his difficulties. The conference decided upon a plan of this 
nature, but it was not carried out, as General Nivelle, who 
shortly afterwards replaced General Joffre in the command 
of the French armies, substituted another plan, and, as will 
be explained in the next chapter, this change had the effect 
of postponing the date of the opening of the combined 
offensive. 

Whilst at the War Office, as well as before that time, I 
had been on the most friendly terms with General Joffre, 
and happening to be in Paris shortly after he vacated his 
command I called one evening at his house. What passed 
between us I shall not repeat, but it will be no breach of 
confidence to say that such references as were made to his 
replacement showed him to be a great patriot, actuated by 
the sole desire to serve his country faithfully, though he 
naturally felt disappointed in being deprived of the oppor- 
tunity of leading to victory the armies he loved so well, 
and with whom he had stood up against the onslaught of 
1914 and afterwards held the enemy at bay for two years 
while our armies were being prepared to come to his aid. 
One end of his room was packed with floral tributes sent 
by his admiring countrymen, and he told me of many 
other testimonies of affection and confidence which he had 
received from those who appreciated the value of his 
services. I have never seen a more pathetic picture than 
this fine old soldier, who had hitherto been the most 
prominent figure in the Allied armies and was now prevented 
from reaping the success which his stout heart and indomit- 
able will had made possible. France produced many capable 
Generals in the Great War, but it would be hard to think of 
one better quahfied than General Joffre, if as well, to be at 
the head of her troops during the early stages of it, especially 



286 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

in August 19 14 when a repetition of the failure of 1870 was 
deemed sufficiently imminent to justify the removal of the 
seat of government from Paris to Bordeaux. 

I can speak with some personal knowledge on this point, 
for I saw Joffre on two or three critical occasions in August 
and September of 1914, one of them being at two o'clock 
in the morning after he had made a long motor drive. This 
is an hour when a man's courage and judgment are not at 
their best, and for myself I have always regarded with 
suspicion pessimistic telegrams sent from the front after 
II P.M. But although the situation was as bad as it 
could be — ^hence Joffre's journey — ^he was as calm and 
imperturbable as ever, and one felt him to be a real tower 
of strength against which weaker natures might confidently 
lean for support. When his original plan for meeting the 
enemy in 19 14 had collapsed he carried on his shoulders a 
burden which would have broken down an ordinary man, 
but he never wavered in his determination to return to the 
attack. The opportunity for this came at the Mame in the 
first week of September, and he seized it with such prompti- 
tude and success as will always place him in the front rank 
of great commanders. 

When making one of my periodical visits to Paris in 
1917 I invited Joffre, then a Marechal, to dine with me at 
the Hotel Crillon and meet a few British officers with whom 
he was acquainted. We had a most enjoyable evening, the 
Marechal evidently being very gratified at the attention 
shown him, and he told me a good deal about his anxieties 
and intentions during the early part of the war. Whilst 
we were at dinner it became known outside that Pere 
Joffre was at the hotel, and on leaving he received a 
tremendous ovation from the crowd which had assembled in 
the Place de la Concorde. 

Like most other senior French generals Joffre absolutely 
refused to converse in any language except his own, but 
he was quick to grasp the sense of what was said to him, 
no matter how quaint the words or vile the pronunciation. 
Once when having dejeuner together at his headquarters 
we were discussing a new plan which had been suggested 
for winning the war, and for the moment I could think of 



LORD KITCHENER'S DEATH 287 

no more apt remark to make about it than that if it were 
attempted we would find ourselves in the soup. Not 
knowing how to render the phrase in idiomatic French, I 
gave it to him literally as, " nous nous trouverons dans 
le consomm6." He immediately tumbled to the meaning, 
and immensely enjoyed my lion-hearted effort not to be 
defeated. 

In December 1916 Mr. Lloyd George became Prime 
Minister in place of Mr. Asquith, Lord Derby succeeding 
the former as Secretary of State for War. AU public men 
are liable to be either over-praised or over-blamed, and 
whether Mr. Asquith was or was not an exception to the rule 
is no business of mine. I may say, however, that my experi- 
ence of him as Prime Minister — which extended over more 
than half the duration of the war, and the most difficult 
part of it — ^was that he showed a much more sympathetic 
recognition of the difiiculties with which our commanders 
and troops in the field were faced than did some of his 
colleagues ; and he was always ready to give an impartial 
hearing to the views of the General Staff, whether able to 
accept them or not. 

Lord Kitchener's tragic death in Jime 1916 was an 
irreparable loss to the Empire and to the Entente. He 
was easily the most outstanding personahty at the AUied 
conferences, and was listened to with more deference 
than was vouchsafed to any one else during the two and a 
half years that I attended these meetings. At the War 
Office and in Downing Street I found him to be a 
staunch supporter of the General Staff, and his aptitude for 
detecting essentials enabled him to give us much con- 
structive assistance. I did not reahse how valuable his 
help was until deprived of it, when, in addition to carrying 
my own load, I had to shoulder as best I could part of the 
load which he had hitherto borne. Without quite knowing 
why sometimes, he had a wonderful knack in being right 
in the things that really mattered. 

For some months before his death it was common talk 
that his relations with certain members of the Government 
were the reverse of happy, and that intrigues were afoot 
to get him removed from the Cabinet. What amount of 



288 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

truth there was in this gossip I do not pretend to know, 
but I had not been a week in the War Office before I was 
warned by a friend that " they '* hoped I would " down K." 
He did not say who " they '* were, and my reply was 
that I was not concerned with " downing " anybody, and 
certainly not Lord Kitchener. 

Like some other great men Lord Kitchener was exacting, 
and had no use whatever for those who raised petty diffi- 
culties at a time when prompt action was required ; while 
as to his alleged habit of over-centrahsation all I can say 
is that it was never displayed during the six months I had 
the privilege of working with him, and that he was as ready 
to listen to the advice of his departmental heads as were 
any of the other seven Secretaries of State under whom 
I have worked. Nor did he disclose any sign of that 
ruthless and domineering disposition attributed to him by 
those who wished to injure his good name. On the 
contrary, he was a kind and delightful chief to serve, once 
his ways were understood ; and I know that he many times 
stood up against opposition in high quarters so as to protect 
officers who were threatened with unfair treatment. As an 
instance of this, his last words to me were, when I said 
good-bye to him on the eve of his departure to Russia : 

" Remember what I have told you about and mind you 

look after him." The officer in question was then being 
subjected to a persecution which Lord Kitchener thought 
to be undeserved. 

Of all ministers and soldiers, so far as my knowledge 
goes, Lord Kitchener alone was convinced from the first 
that the war would be one of prolonged attrition. Ever 
looking further forward than his contemporaries, he always 
maintained in his talks with me that 1917 would be the 
decisive year, and this conception might have proved re- 
markably correct had not the clock been put back twelve 
months by the Russian revolution, which he, no more than 
all others at the time, could foresee would occur. Indeed, 
it might have proved accurate notwithstanding the revolu- 
tion had not the Chantilly plan for the West Front in 1917 
been rejected. 

There were officers who, holding high posts in London 




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LORD KITCHENER'S WORK 289 

before 1914, enjoyed all the advantages to be derived from 
a constant study of the problem of war with Germany, and 
who yet utterly failed, not only at first but for months 
afterwards, to grasp the character and magnitude of the 
struggle. Lord Kitchener, having none of these privileges, 
and without any War Office or other home experience to 
guide him, and suddenly summoned to assume supreme 
mihtary charge, at once perceived, with a marvellous in- 
stinct, the stupendous effort the Empire must make. He 
developed om* mihtary forces with a rapidity previously 
unknown to the world, and to an extent undreamt of by his 
predecessors in Whitehall, and not only did he not fail — as 
his detractors have said — ^to realise the importance of in- 
creasing the output of munitions, but he achieved much in 
this respect for which the credit has been assigned to or 
filched by others. The unexpected enormous demand for 
mtmitions, foreseen by nobody, not even by the systemati- 
cally-prepared Germany, could not be met by a stroke of 
the pen. There were no Krupp's works in England. It 
must be a matter of many months, and if blame is to be 
cast upon any one for the shortage in 1914-15, it should be 
attributed to those ministers and their military advisers 
who held office in the years before the war. 

Lord Kitchener was as fully ahve to the necessity for 
increasing the output of munitions as for increasing the 
number of divisions, and when proposals of this kind were 
submitted to him he usually doubled the amount recom- 
mended, thus earning for himself the nickname of the 
" doubler.'' As to the progress actually made, it may be 
mentioned that between the autumn of 1915 and mid- 
summer of 1916 — i.e. just before the battle of the Somme 
— ^the supply of heavy guns, howitzers, machine - gims, 
and ammunition to the field armies was very largely 
increased, and this was mainly the work of the War Office 
and not of the Munitions Ministry, which, doing valuable 
work later, had not yet had time to make itself felt at 

the front. 

On the whole I would say that the achievements and 
foresight of Lord Kitchener place him in a class entirely by 
himself ; and they justify the conclusion that no man in 

u 



290 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

any of the Entente countries accomplished more, if as much, 
to bring about the final defeat of the enemy. 

A few days before he left for Russia I was due to inspect 
the cadets at the Royal Mihtary Academy, Woolwich, and 
thinking that he would enjoy a brief respite from his War 
Office duties I asked him to go in my place. At first he 
demiured, but in the end he went, and in this way it came 
about that he held his last parade on the same ground where, 
as a cadet, he had begun his mihtary life some forty-seven 
years before. 

In order to fill in the details of my own career, and at 
the risk of being accused of partiahty in the above apprecia- 
tion of Lord Kitchener, I must add that, quite imknown to 
me, one of his last acts at the War Office was to recommend 
to the King that I should be promoted General. This 
promotion was announced in the London Gazette of the 
3rd June 19 16, or about twenty-eight years after the date 
of my first commission. 



CHAPTER XVI 

CHIEF OF THE IMPERIAL GENERAL STAFF, I917-18 

Allied Conference at Rome — Method of conducting these conferences — 
Admiral Bacon — Dover Patrol — Relations with Admiralty Stafi — 
Admirals Jellicoe and Wemyss — Reorganisation of Admiralty StafE 
— Lord Fisher — Visit to Italian Front — General StafE views on 
man-power — Difficulty of providing drafts — Question many times 
raised during 191 7 — Young soldier battalions — Events on Russian 
front — Palestine Campaign — Operations on West Front — Nivelle 
replaced by Petain — Foch becomes Chief of French General Staff — 
My relations with him — Messines — Passchendaele — Cambrai — 
Defeat of Itahans — Alternative plans suggested during the year — 
Evils attending unnecessary changes of plan — Difficulty of keeping 
strategical direction of war on right hnes — Consideration by General 
Staff of plans for 191 8 — Conclusions reached — Anxiety regarding 
man-power and shipping — Generals Pershing and Bliss — Question 
of unity of command — Various proposals made in 191 5 — Calais 
agreement of February 191 7 — Consideration by mihtary authorities 
in summer of 191 7 — Rapallo Conference estabhshes a Supreme 
War Council — A poHtical not a military body — The technical 
advisers of the Council become executive officers — Am unable to 
accept the Government arrangement for giving effect to this system 
— This leads to my removal from the War Office — Measures taken 
after the German offensive in March 191 8 — My indebtedness to 
many friends whilst C.I.G.S. 

In the first week of January 1917 I went with certain 
ministers of the newly-formed War Cabinet to Rome, where 
an Allied Conference was to be held to consider future plans. 
We travelled from Paris in company with M. Briand, M. 
Thomas, General (now Marshal) Lyautey, and other French 
representatives. M. Briand, who had been Prime Minister 
since October 1915, was a delightful fellow-traveller, and the 
Hfe and soul of the party. General Lyautey had just been 
appointed War Minister from the position of Governor- 
General of Morocco. He also was an interesting personality, 
and, being of a type more suited for business in the field 
than in parliament, he apparently did not expect to hold 

291 



292 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

office for more than a short time . He ceased to be War Minister, 
and returned to Morocco, two months later, when M. Ribot 
replaced M. Briand, M. Painleve, a famous mathematician 
and scientist, then becoming War Minister. Generals Sarrail 
and Milne from Macedonia also attended the conference, 
and the principal Itahan representatives were M. BoselU and 
Baron Sonnino, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister re- 
spectively. Many Allied conferences had been held in 19 16, 
either at London, Paris, or Calais, but this was the first to 
take place in Italy, and the Itahans gave us a most hospitable 
reception. 

The number of persons present at these conferences was 
seldom less than a score, and when the whole of the AUies 
were represented the number would approximate to a hun- 
dred or more. Besides the delegates of the various small 
countries, each of the principal Powers would, as a rule, be 
represented by its Prime Minister, the ministers for foreign 
affairs, the army, navy, and munitions, these being accom- 
panied by their professional advisers, commanders-in-chief, 
secretaries, and other assistants. 

The extent to which the conferences were productive of 
decisions largely depended, as at all conferences, on the 
personality of the president, who was invariably the Prime 
Minister of the country in which the meeting was being 
held. M. Clemenceau stood out by himself in this respect. 
He had a tactful, but nevertheless masterful, way of getting 
through the business on hand, and I can recollect many 
instances when he succeeded in extracting a decision and 
bringing to an end the discussion of thorny questions which 
threatened to be both abortive and interminable. 

The proceedings were the more prolonged, not to say 
tedious, because they usually had to be conducted in two 
languages, French and EngUsh. Some of the English repre- 
sentatives could neither speak nor understand French ; whilst 
most of the French and the other foreign representatives had 
little or no knowledge of EngHsh. Consequently not only 
had the greater part of the discussion to be dupUcated, but 
while it was being interpreted for the benefit of those who 
had not understood the original, those who had understood 
it were apt to engage in whispered conversation amongst 




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ADMIRAL BACON 293 

themselves and so distract the attention of those who were 
trying to Hsten to the translation. The translation, too, as 
is usually the case, did not always convey the intended 
meaning, the result being that further explanations had to 
be made in order to clear away possible misunderstandings. 
There is no doubt that ministers and others were at a great 
disadvantage if they did not possess a fair working know- 
ledge of French — the language used by practically all the 
Allied representatives except ourselves and the Americans. 

My duties frequently took me across the Channel either 
to attend conferences, or to see Sir Douglas Haig, or for some 
other purpose. In 1917 alone I crossed from England no 
fewer than thirty-two times, the arrangements for the 
voyage being made by Admiral Bacon, in naval command 
at Dover, who could always be depended upon to produce, 
at any hour of the day or night, and practically in any 
weather, one of his destroyers for my use, no matter how 
hard they might be working. The South-Eastem and 
Chatham Railway Company was equally obhging in pro- 
viding railway facilities, and I was thus able to leave the 
War Office about i p.m., after attending War Cabinet meet- 
ings, and be at G.H.Q. in France, one or one and a half 
hour's drive from the French port, in time for tea. 

Admiral Bacon struck me as being a man of great 
energy, who was always busy devising new schemes and 
inventions for outwitting the enemy, of whose activities he 
was constantly well informed, and he was an enthusiastic 
supporter of the British army on the West Front. I first 
made his acquaintance early in 1915 when, as a " Colonel,** 
he came to France with the battery of the 15-inch howitzers 
which, as a director of an Enghsh firm, he had been instru- 
mental in making. Wishing to see what they were like I 
visited their first halting-place between Boulogne and the 
front, and found that on entering the grounds of the chateau 
which had been allocated as their billet for the night, one 
of the howitzers had collided with the gate, bringing down 
the greater part of a masonry pillar, and had then gone to 
rest several feet below the surface of a large flower-bed. 
The howitzers were of considerable weight and size, as were 
also the tractors which drew them, and required rather 



294 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

skilful driving. They did good work for us, and at a time 
when we had practically no modern heavy artillery except 
a few 9* 2-inch howitzers. 

The Admiral, who joined us from the retired list of the 
navy, was not the only person in the war who held both 
naval and military rank. The record example was that of 
a civihan, who, from Deputy General Manager of a railway, 
became both Major-General and Vice- Admiral in less than 
two years. 

Admiral Bacon was in command of the Dover Patrol 
from the summer of 1915 to the end of 19 17, and had a 
fine body of officers under his orders. Some of the destroyer 
commanders I met on my voyages across the Channel were 
boys not long out of their teens, and all were pronounced 
optimists, full of high spirits, and animated by the single 
desire to '* have a go " at the enemy. Twice I crossed 
under the care of Commander Evans, who had been with 
Captain Scott's last expedition to the South Pole. On one 
of these voyages Evans had some £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 
of buUion on board, packed in small bags which were l5^g 
on the floor of his cabin and the ward room ! 

I may say here that throughout my time as C.I.G.S. 
the relations between the General Staff and Admiralty were 
without exception extremely cordial and helpful. This was 
an improvement upon what I had seen at the War Office 
years before, when each department was inchned to go its 
own way in disregard of the other. The navy was, I always 
thought, the chief offender — ^which was excusable perhaps, 
for it was then commonly thought to be sufficient in itself 
for all war purposes, and the army to be hardly worth 
considering, except for garrison duties abroad. This better 
understanding between the two services was, as I have said 
elsewhere, partly due to the establishment of the Naval 
War College, but mainly to the genuine goodwill shown by 
the three officers who in turn held the post of First Sea 
Lord — Sir Henry Jackson, Sir John (now Lord) JelHcoe, and 
Sir Rosslyn (now Lord) Wemyss, who were always most 
anxious to work in close accord with the army in every 
possible way. 

It is to be hoped that we shaU hear no more about one 



LORD FISHER 295 

fighting service being of supreme importance to the country, 
and the others of httle or none. Having an Empire scattered 
all over the globe, connected together not by roads and 
railways but by the sea, it is a platitude to say that we 
must maintain a navy second to none in the world. But 
it is equally true that ships cannot fight on land, that land 
fighting occurs in all great wars, and therefore that land 
forces are necessary. Again, neither the navy nor the army 
can fight effectively without the assistance of the Air Force 
Each service is in fact the complement of the other two, 
and this view is now accepted, I think, by the officers of 
all three. 

During 1917 the War Cabinet came to the conclusion 
that the organisation of the Admiralty was not satisfactory, 
one of the alleged faults being that the First Sea Lord had 
such a multitude of duties to carry out that he could not 
give his attention to the really vital questions connected with 
the emplojnnent of the fleets. Some thirteen years before, 
as described in a previous chapter, the Admiralty system 
had been taken as the pattern for the War Office : it was 
now decided that the War Office system, as modified and 
developed by further experience, should be taken as the 
pattern for the Admiralty, and I was requested to assist the 
sailors in making the necessary alterations. I therefore 
placed Whigham at their disposal for a few days, so that 
he might explain our methods to them, more especially in 
regard to General Staff duties. 

Lord Fisher was not a member of the Board of Admiralty 
whilst I was C.I.G.S., and I had no official dealings with 
him in connection with the Great War. We had, however, 
several private conversations about it, and although I did 
not always agree with him — ^more especially with his idea 
of landing a force in Schles wig-Hoist ein, of which I had 
heard years before — I could not help admiring the incisive 
manner in which he expressed his views. On one occasion I 
was invited by Lord Rosebery to meet him at dinner, and the 
three of us, no one else being present, had a very interesting 
talk. Lord Fisher had much to say about submarines and 
the submarine menace, then at its height, and he repeatedly 
punctuated his arguments by driving the prongs of his 



296 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

dinner fork into our host's tablecloth. At last Lord Rose- 
bery quietly drew his attention to the destruction he was 
causing, for which he at once apologised, but he immediately 
forgot the admonition and down came the fork again. Like 
other mortals Lord Fisher had his defects, but I should 
imagine that few people would deny that to him is due 
a good share of the credit for the rapidity and efficiency 
with which the navy began its heavy task in August 1914. 

In response to an invitation I received from General 
Cadorna whilst at Rome, I spent a fortnight the following 
March in visitiug the Italian front. I first went to his 
headquarters at Udine, and afterwards to different parts 
of the line on the Isonzo and Trent ino fronts. Lucas 
and my son Brian went with me, as did also General 
Weygand and another French officer, the French govern- 
ment having decided to send them when they heard of my 
projected visit. I was met in Italy by Brigadier-General 
Delme-Radcliffe, who was head of the British mission at 
Cadorna's headquarters, and Colonel Boriani of the ItaHan 
army. The Colonel was an entertaining travelling com- 
panion as weU as a fine fighting soldier. He had been 
wounded seven times in the war, and as far as I could 
make out he was never so happy as when in the thick of a 
fight at the head of his beloved Sicihans. He could con- 
verse in Enghsh quite fluently, and had once written a 
mihtary book in the language, but hke most people who have 
to cope with a foreign tongue he occasionally erred in being 
somewhat too hteral. I remember one instance of this 
which caused us some amusement, though I am glad to say 
that we were sufiiciently well-behaved not to show it. He 
was translating the menu for us, which was written in 
Itahan, the joint being " hind quarter of veal." This he 
rendered as " the posterior of a young beast " ! 

I was much impressed with the administrative efiiciency 
of the troops. They were well housed, clothed, and fed ; the 
transport was in good condition ; and the road communica- 
tions through the steep and lofty hills were most skilfully 
constructed. No German divisions had as yet been em- 
ployed on this front, and although the season was not 
suitable for active operations one could not help noticing 




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VISIT TO THE ITALIAN FRONT 297 

the absolute quiet which everywhere prevailed — a very 
different state of affairs from what we were accustomed to on 
the West Front. It was seldom that firing of any kind was 
heard beyond an occasional rifle shot, and I do not remember 
once seeing an aeroplane in the air. 

A special train was placed at my disposal and every- 
where I was accorded great hospitality, for which I had 
to thank the Italian Foreign and War Ministers, and the 
Italian ambassador in London, the Marquis ImperiaH, as 
well as General Cadoma and the other officers whom I met. 

During my visit I presented, in accordance with His 
Majesty's commands, the G.C.M.G. to His Royal High- 
ness the Duke of Aosta, commanding the 3rd Army, and 
other decorations to Lieutenant - Generals Pecori-Giraldi, 
Piacentini, Di Robilant, and Mambretti, respectively com- 
manding the ist, 2nd, 4th, and 6th Armies. 

On the eve of my departure for England I received the 
following telegram from His Majesty the King of Italy : 

Au retour a Rome de ma visite aux navires de guerre je 
tiens cL vous exprimer men vif regret de ne pas vous rencontrer 
au front. J'espere de vous voir a une occsLsion que je souhaite 
prochaine. En attendant je vous conf^re comme marque de ma 
consideration la Grande Croix de I'ordre des Saints Maurice et 
Lazare. Cette decoration vous sera remise par mon Ambassadeur 
a Londres. Vittorio Emanuele. 

I may add here that at the end of the war His Majesty 
conferred upon me the further honour of the " Order of the 
Crown of Italy, Grand Cross." 

Throughout 1917 the question of obtaining a sufficient 
number of recruits to meet the requirements of new services 
and to supply drafts was a constant source of anxiety, and 
it will serve to explain the views of the General Staff re- 
garding man-power and the mihtary situation in general 
if I quote from a speech I made, by request of the Govern- 
ment, at a conference on the " trade-card " system held on 
the 4th April 1917 at the Ministry of Munitions. Repre- 
sentatives of the various trades unions were present, Mr. 
Arthur Henderson being in the chair. Admiral JelUcoe was 
also deputed to speak. I said : 



298 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

The War Office has often been blamed for doing wrong thmgs, 
but the War Office has a duty to perform. It has to win this 
war, and to do that it must have men. But it is not a leech. 
The War Office takes the men which the Government give it, and 
can take no more. The War Office has never attempted to lay 
down how many men it can have, or where they are to come from. 
It has told the Government what men it ought to have, but it 
has always left the Government to devise the means of providuig 
them and to specify the number. 

It has also been said that the War Office does not make the 
best use of the men it gets. The War Office makes mistakes. 
Who does not ? No doubt there have been cases of injustice 
to individuals and many anomalies, and men have been taken 
who should not have been taken, square pegs have been put 
into round holes, and so on. I admit all this, but look at the 
situation with which we were faced at the beginning of the 
war. We were unprepared for this war, as were all other nations 
in Europe except Germany and France. We had no organisation 
such as continental nations have for calling up the population 
and sorting out men according to their qualifications for miUtary 
service, for industries, for munitions, agriculture, and so forth. 
We had no system of universal service, but had to call on volun- 
teers — we had to improvise as we went along, and we have been 
living from hand to mouth throughout the war. The consequence 
of improvising is confusion, waste of effort, friction, and injustice. 
With the best will in the world these things could not be avoided. 
But there is no use in crying over spilt milk, or in laying blame 
on individuals, ministers, or the Government. It is not their 
fault. It is the fault of the system or rather the want of it, and 
that is due to want of foresight and preparation before the war 
on the part of the nation as a whole. 

Another point I wish to refer to is the criticism of military 
operations which has sometimes been made. Here, again, mis- 
takes have occurred, but marvellously few considering we had to 
form large new armies. The critics are chiefly disgruntled and 
otherwise undesirable members of the community who, having 
failed in their own professions, think they know all about the 
professions of every one else, and instead of loyally putting their 
shoulders to the wheel employ most of their time in sowing 
discontent and distrust of those in authority. Let us treat them 
with the contempt they deserve, as do the soldiers at the front. 
I am gratified to say that, more than in any campaign in which 
I have taken part, criticisms within the army itself have been 
practically non-existent, and this I regard as a great tribute to 
the loyalty and discipline of the nation which has produced the 
men of whom our New Armies are composed. 



MAN-POWER 299 

Our progress with the war is bound to be slow because of the 
colossal numbers engaged, and because Germany enjoyed a great 
advantage at the start. It is a difficult and long business in war 
to make up for a bad start. 

She (Germany) has been preparing for war and nothing else 
for years past, and has recently made extraordinary efforts. 
She now has many more divisions in the field than last year, and 
has increased the number of her soldiers by about a million. 
She has been able to do this by her domineering autocratic 
government, acting in total disregard of the most elementary 
principles of humanity and international law. After over- 
running Poland she compelled thousands of men to emigrate to 
Germany and to work in German mines and munition factories, 
thus releasing large numbers of Germans for miUtajy service. 
Her next method of obtaining men was to pass last November 
what is called the auxiliary service law, by which all persons, 
both male and female, in Germany, between the ages of 17 and 
60, were placed at the disposal of the Government. This measure 
alone has probably set free for military service considerably over 
one milHon men. She has adopted a system of slave-raiding in 
Belgium and northern France, whereby thousands of Belgian 
and French civihans have been forcibly removed from their 
homes and compelled to work as slaves for their enemies in 
Germany, thus releasing still more Germans for miUtary service. 
We must meet this desperate effort the enemy has made, and to 
meet it we must have men. 

You ask how many men do we want ? My answer is the same 
as I made to the Government a few days after taking up my 
present post. It is that we ought not to expect to win a war 
such as this unless and until every man and woman in the country 
does a full day's work of an essential nature. Many times during 
the last sixteen months the question of man-power has been con- 
sidered, and I have never varied my statement to the Government. 
I have always said that it is impossible to put a limit to the 
number of men needed for the army, because the task is so 
enormous that we must have all the men who can be spared from 
the navy, the various industries, agriculture, and other employ- 
ments essential to the prosecution of the war. It is not for me 
to say how many men can be got, or from where they are to 
come, but surely it should be possible, seeing the great reserve 
of men stiU in the country and with a proper adjustment of man- 
power, to give the army the men needed, and our immediate 
needs are half a million men between now and July next. The 
failure to get these men wiU undoubtedly involve a prolongation 
of the war and consequent prolongation of hardship and misery. 

We have done much. Our troops at the front are the wonder 



300 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

of the world. No one has ever approached the colossal task that 
we have so successfully accomplished. Individuals throughout 
the Empire have behaved magnificently in the way of absolute 
selflessness, and have given up everything — their money, their 
time, their position, their prospects, their friends, their lives — 
to the State. But the question is, have we done all that we can 
do — for Germany is not yet beaten ? Do not think I am 
despondent. I am perfectly confident of success provided we 
remain determined to win, but although fully persuaded of the 
righteousness of our cause and therefore fully confident of victory, 
I think the way to victory may be long and certainly will be hard. 
We have been saved by our navy from the horrors of war being 
brought into our own homes, with the result that many people in 
the land are stiU ignorant of the urgency of our position. I for 
my part feel that an enormous responsibility rests upon me, as 
I am asked to win the war and it is impossible to do that unless 
sufiicient men are forthcoming. 

In order to obtain the men needed it seems to me that, for 
the duration of the war, we must one and all be willing to sub- 
ordinate our personal liberty and will to that of the State. It is 
only in this way that the State of&cials — ^the Government — can 
have the free hand necessary to enable them to organise the 
resources of the Empire to the best advantage. We must prac- 
tise self-denial and self-sacrifice, and, after all, what is demanded 
of us at home in comparison with what is demanded of our men 
at the front, many of whom are every day making the supreme 
sacrifice ? Or what are our privations as compared with those 
of the countries which have been invaded and devastated for 
generations to come, homes broken up, industries ruined, men 
deported as slaves, and old people and children left without food 
or shelter ? It is upon methods of outrage such as these that 
the Germans are relying to induce the Belgian and French people 
to submit to their terms. 

As I have said, it is difficult for us at this distance to realise 
what these things mean, but we may realise them one day if we 
do not, before it is too late, take every means in our power to 
crush that overbearing spirit which has degraded a great nation, 
has brought aU this misery upon the world, and has defied every 
law of God and man. We must in fact win. The point is, what 
do we mean by winning ? I doubt if this is properly understood. 
I take it there is no desire on the part of any one of us to crush 
the German nation, and the sooner the German people know that 
the better. Our aim is, as I understand it, to deal German 
despotism such a blow as will for generations to come prevent a 
recurrence of the horrors of the last two and a half years. In 
short we are fighting in the cause of freedom, and before we can 



MAN-POWER 301 

t freedom Germany must be taught to realise that might is 
5 right. Until that is done there can be no true freedom either 
• individuals, or families, or societies, or for the Empire. 

We are a law-abiding race, and as far as I know my country- 
5n all they need in a situation like this is to be told the truth, 
d what it is they are required to do. I have told you all 
it it is possible to tell you with regard to the number of men 

need, and although a great strain has already been put upon 
, I must also tell you that we must be prepared for a still 
iater strain before we finish the war. I know you are ready 
face that strain, and if we all face it, resolutely set our teeth, 
d are true to ourselves, we shall, with God's help, secure that 
edom for which we have been compelled to fight. 

I did not obtain the half-million men for the army which 
>aid were required by July, but it should not be assumed 
at those present at the meeting were responsible for the 
lure. There were other reasons for it, as I shall show later. 

The difficulty of providing drafts in 19 17 can be under- 
)od when I say that while we then had on the West 
ont a greater number of divisions than before, the fighting 
ing prolonged and severe, we took into the army only 
out 820,000 men as against 1,200,000 in the previous year, 
lis reduced number of recruits was accentuated by the 
:t that the proportion of wounded men who recovered 
Siciently to admit of being sent back to the front became 
.s as time went on. In the early part of the war we could 
y upon some sixty per cent of the wounded becoming 
ailable for redrafting, but by the end of 19 17 we had to 
Ddify this estimate in order to make allowances for those 
m — an ever-increasing number — who had been wounded 
)re than once. Obviously men wounded for the third, 
irth, or fifth time were not likely to recover so quickly, 
at all, as men wounded for the first time, and medical 
d other officers concerned were reluctant to send them 
ok to the trenches. Many hard cases of this kind came 

my notice during the war, and it was not pleasant to 
; men, perhaps fathers of families, being repeatedly sent 
ck to the front, while there were others in the country 
LO could be spared and were not called upon to perform 
y military service. 

I may also observe that the necessity for keeping fighting 



302 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

units up to "establishment," or authorised strength, is 
much more important than is usually supposed by the 
layman, and sometimes even by the professional if he is 
not employed at the front. The fallacy prevails that a 
battalion of, say, five hundred men is only fifty per cent 
inferior in fighting power to one having its authorised 
strength of about a thousand men. This is far from being 
the case, because in war there are in every battahon some 
hundred and fifty to two hundred men who are necessarily 
employed on duties which take them away from their 
platoons, and this number remains more or less constant no 
matter what the total strength of the battahon may be. 
Hence if a battalion loses five hundred men in action its 
fighting strength is reduced not to five hundred but to 
between three hundred and four hundred men, and its 
whole fighting organisation thereby becomes dislocated and 
imperfect. 

Weakness in numbers may also affect morale. Battalions 
usually take a very local view of matters, and judge the 
progress of events largely by what happens immediately 
around them, and if they know that they are weak and may 
continue to be so for an indefinite period they cannot be 
expected to fight with the same confidence as they would 
if supported by the knowledge that their ranks were full. 
Nothing, in short, is more discouraging to a battahon than 
to see its ranks depleted without observing signs of their 
being replenished. 

To meet the situation as above described, and bearing 
in mind that the Russian revolution was certain to react 
to our disadvantage on the West Front, it was clear that 
the Military Service Act of 1916, as well as the method of 
its appUcation, called for drastic amendment. This Act was 
perhaps as good as we could hope to get at the time it 
became law, but it was hampered by many conditions which 
tended to nulhfy its value, it was in itself too limited in 
scope, and it was unaccompanied by proper machinery 
for co-ordinating the man-power activities of the various 
departments concerned — e.g. War Ofiice, Admiralty, 
Munitions, Board of Trade. In September 19 16 a Man- 
Power Distribution Board was set up, and in the following 



MINISTER OF NATIONAL SERVICE 303 

December a National Service Department was established, 
but neither of them exercised really effective control over 
the competing interests of the different departments, which 
continued to tug with added vigour, each in its own direction, 
in proportion as the shrinkage of man -power resources 
became more pronounced. 

Subject to the orders of the Government and to the in- 
structions of the Secretary of State for War, recruiting was, 
as I have explained in an earlier chapter, primarily the business 
of the Adjutant-General, but as C.I.G.S. it was my duty 
to take a hand also, and at the end of November 1916 I 
recommended that the mihtary age should be raised to fifty- 
five years, and that all men up to that age should be utiUsed 
for such national work as the Government deemed essential to 
the prosecution of the war. This meant, of course, all-round 
Hability to national service. A few days later events occurred 
which led to a reconstruction of the Government, Mr. Lloyd 
George becoming Prime Minister, and for the moment con- 
sideration of the recommendation was unavoidably post- 
poned. 

From time to time in 1917 various questions connected 
with man-power were referred to committees and individuals 
appointed by the War Cabinet to enquire into them, and 
certain improvements of a minor nature were made, but 
they were far from being adequate. They remained so when 
the duty of dealing with man-power was subsequently 
vested in a Minister of National Service. Then, as before, 
a smaller share of the men available was allotted to the army 
than a judicial review of the circumstances showed to be 
necessary, and eventually some twenty-five per cent of the 
battahons on the West Front were disbanded in order to help 
to fill up the remainder. 

The problem with which ministers were faced was 
difficult, as most problems in war are, since many conflicting 
demands for men for the three fighting forces, for ship- 
building, food-production, munitions, and other national 
services had to be reconciled. Still, the outstanding factor 
was that if, for lack of men, the armies on the West Front 
were beaten the war would certainly be prolonged, if nothing 
worse than that, and therefore their maintenance at full 



304 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

strength unquestionably ranked second in importance to no 
other requirement. 

Unfortunately, arguments of this nature failed to carry 
sufficient weight in adjusting the different claims until, 
in the spring of 1918, the truth of them was driven home by 
the enemy in such a manner that it could no longer be 
disputed. Measures to provide more men were then taken, 
and the Act of 19 16 was amended by the Mihtary Service 
Act (No. 2), which raised the military age from forty-one to 
fifty-one years and, by Order in Council, this age could be 
increased to fifty-six years and the operation of the Bill be 
extended to Ireland. If these measures had been taken in 
1917 the heavy losses we suffered in 1918 might have been 
fewer, the ultimate drain upon our man -power might 
therefore have been less than that which actually took place, 
and the necessity for sending boys to the front under nineteen 
years of age would have been minimised if not entirety 
obviated. Exactly why they were not taken at an earlier 
date is a question that I shall not attempt to answer, 
since, as already observed, it was for the Government, 
who had all the facts before them, and not for the General 
Staff, to determine the man-power effort, both as to time 
and amount, that the nation could properly be called upon 
to make. I will merely say that there seemed to be no 
justifiable grounds for supposing, either in 1917 or before 
or after that time, that the people would flinch at any 
demand that might be made upon them, and it will be 
agreed that of all the Entente countries not one was more 
eager to do its duty or was more easy to lead than our own. 

While on the subject of men I may mention that in the 
winter of 1916-17 a very desirable change was made in the 
composition of the infantry training battahons at home, 
which had heretofore received recruits irrespective of their 
age, the ages varying between boys of eighteen and men 
of forty-one years. It was clearly objectionable, both from 
a training and social point of view, to mix up boys with 
men old enough to be their fathers, and, moreover, after 
the spring of 19 17 the training battalions comprised the only 
infantry of the home army, and as they were almost daily 
deprived of men for drafts for the armies abroad there was 



YOUNG SOLDIER BATTALIONS 305 

and could be no stability in the arrangements for home 
defence. 

The Adjutant-General and I therefore arranged to place 
all recruits of about the age of eighteen in " Young 
Soldier Battalions/' where they remained for four months 
whilst undergoing their recruits' course of training. They 
were then passed on by complete companies of 250 strong 
to " Graduated Battalions," where they stayed for eight 
months and so reached the age of nineteen years, at which 
they were eligible to be sent abroad. The companies were 
transferred to the Graduated Battahons at intervals of two 
months, and as these battahons had five companies each 
they were able to send abroad one company every two 
months and still have four companies left, the personnel of 
which had been under training for periods varying between 
four and twelve months. This was an advantage that 
greatly simphfied home defence duties. 

We secured, in course of time, excellent commanding 
and company officers who took a keen interest in their 
young charges, and the latter, hving in a kind of pubhc 
school atmosphere, derived far greater benefit, civil as well 
as military, from their twelve months' training than had 
been possible under the old system. All officers spoke in 
the highest terms of the good behaviour of their boys, and 
I always regard this innovation in the composition of 
training battahons as one of the best things in which I had 
a hand during the war. When these lads, many being 
under nineteen, were sent out to help to stem the disaster 
on the West Front in the spring of 1918, they more than 
upheld the reputation they had deservedly earned while in 
England. 

Of the operations in 19 17 sufficient reference has already 
been made to those in Macedonia, Mesopotamia, and East 
Africa. 

On the East Front Germany had matters all her own 
way. It had been decided in the autumn of 1916 to send 
to Russia an inter-aUied mission in substitution for the 
ill-fated visit of Lord Kitchener, and the Secretary of State 
for War proposed that I should accompany it. I explained 
to the Prime Minister, then Mr. Asquith, that I could not 

X 



3o6 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

possibly leave my work at the War Office, and he was good 
enough not to take me away. Further, I had grave doubts 
whether the mission would, at that late hour, make any 
material improvement in what was evidently a bad situation, 
and they proved to be only too well foimded. The mission 
started at the middle of January 1917, and on the 12th of 
March, shortly after it returned to England, the revolution 
broke out. On the 15th of March the Czar abdicated, and 
before the end of the year Russia had concluded an armistice 
with the enemy preparatory to the settlement of terms of 
peace. 

To what extent Lord Kitchener might have been able to 
stave off the revolution and keep the Russian armies in the 
field, had he not been drowned when going to Russia, it 
would be futile for any one to attempt to say, but there 
can be no question that he was far more Ukely to succeed 
than was the mission which went in his place. He had the 
insight to appreciate the gravity of the situation ; the 
prestige and experience to ensure his advice receiving an 
attentive hearing ; and the Czar and Alexeieff were longing 
for his assistance. The mission was without most, if not all, 
of these advantages. Being a mission of many members, it 
lacked the valuable element of personality ; and it does not 
seem to have been afforded — whatever it may have sought — 
the best opportunities whilst in Russia for obtaining reHable 
information as to the real state of affairs, either at the front 
or at Petrograd. Alexeieff, who died in 1918, practically of 
a broken heart, always maintained that the death of Lord 
Kitchener was the greatest misfortune that ever befell 
Russia. 

In the Egyptian theatre Murray attacked the Turkish 
main position near Gaza in March and again in April, but 
this was not destined to fall until a stronger force with a 
more powerful artillery could be brought against it. The 
offensive was resumed, with success, at the end of October 
under the direction of General AUenby, who had taken the 
place of Murray in June, and following the capture of 
Beersheba, Gaza, and Jaffa, Jerusalem fell into our hands 
on the 7th of December. The collapse of Russia having left 
the whole of the Turks in Asia on our hands, the advance 



GENERAL NIVELLE 307 

into Palestine had for its main object the thwarting of 
hostile designs against Mesopotamia, and not the capture 
of Jerusalem or any other town. 

Operations on the West Front were, as stated in the 
preceding chapter, based on the plan recommended by 
General Nivelle, which had been accepted by the French 
and British governments in Heu of the plan proposed at 
the Chantilly conference held under the presidency of 
General Joffre. According to it the British armies were to 
attack from the southern part of their line so as to draw 
the enemy's reserves in that direction, and then the French 
armies were to deliver the main attack from the Aisne 
front with the object of breaking through the trench barrier. 
A feature of the plan which seemed to have a special 
attraction for ministers was that, if the main attack did 
not produce material results within about forty-eight hours, 
the fighting was to be dehberately stopped so as to prevent 
a repetition in 19 17 of what was regarded as the failure on 
the Somme in 19 16. 

The two governments further agreed, at a conference 
held at Calais on the 26th and 27th of February, to vest 
supreme control of the operations in General Nivelle, the 
British Commander-in-Chief to conform to such instructions 
as General Nivelle might see fit to issue. The proposal to 
make this innovation came as a complete surprise both 
to Sir Douglas Haig and myself, as neither of us had heard 
anything about it before it was put forward on the evening 
of the 26th. The conference was being held, so we had 
been given to understand, mainly in regard to another 
matter — transportation. 

Not having been consulted, and having no idea that 
the nomination of General Nivelle as AUied Commander- 
in-Chief was contemplated. Sir Douglas and I had had 
no opportunity of considering what it involved, and our 
position was the more awkward because General Nivelle 
had, so he told me, been informed by his government 
beforehand of what was intended. We were not in 
favour of the proposal, but as the two governments had 
apparently made up their minds to adopt it, I concluded 
that, apart from suggesting certain amendments as to 



3o8 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

procedure, we could do no more than express our dissent 
and leave responsibility for the future to the War Cabinet. 
The bearing of the decision upon the whole question of what 
is called '* unity of command " will be dealt with later. 

One of my objections to the decision was that as the 
operations might have — as in fact they did have — far- 
reaching consequences, it was not wise to entrust them to 
a General who, although he had won high distinction at 
Verdun in 19 16, had done so in a comparatively subordinate 
capacity, and therefore had yet to prove his fitness for so 
important a post as that of Commander-in-Chief of the 
combined Franco-British armies. 

While the conference was in progress news was received 
that the Germans were withdrawing from their positions on 
the Ancre and Somme to the previously-prepared Hinden- 
burg Line. This retreat radically interfered with the plan 
that Nivelle had designed, and the alterations which neces- 
sarily had to be made to it led to delay in its execution. 
Eventually the British armies attacked from the vicinity of 
Arras on the 9th of April, and the French armies attacked 
on the Aisne front a week later. The operations entailed 
much heavy fighting and did not terminate until the third 
week of May, and although we gained a great victory at 
Vimy, the results elsewhere feU far short of the expectations 
that had been formed by those who were in favour of the 
plan. Soon afterwards General Nivelle was succeeded in 
the command of the French armies by General (now Marshal) 
Petain. 

I do not propose to enter into the controversy which 
took place in France over what became known as the 
Nivelle affair, or to discuss the extent to which that General 
was responsible for the failure to win the decisive victory 
anticipated. I may say, however, that I had not the 
slightest faith in his theory that he could, if he desired, 
break off the battle at the end of forty-eight hours, for 
once a commander commits his troops he cannot hope to 
be able suddenly to stop fighting at the moment which best 
suits his own purpose. The enemy has something, often a 
great deal, to say in the matter, and, as just mentioned, the 
fight did in fact go on for weeks. The General Staff at the 



THE NIVELLE AFFAIR 309 

War Office, like Haig and his staff, were convinced, as for 
months past, that before a break-through on the scale 
contemplated could be accomplished the enemy's resistance 
must be worn down by preparatory attacks made in great 
strength, and it was not possible for Nivelle or any one else 
to forecast how long such attacks would take to produce the 
required effect. 

In fairness to the General it should be stated that, 
besides his inexperience as Commander-in-Chief, and the 
interference with his plan caused by the German retirement, 
he must have been sorely handicapped if, as was afterwards 
alleged, some of his senior commanders had little or no 
belief that the plan would succeed. M. Painleve has told 
us that at a meeting of French generals held before the 
operations began, the President of the French Republic 
being present. General Nivelle asked to resign because of 
the want of confidence shown towards his plan. I have 
never been able to understand why he did not insist 
upon one of two things being done ; either that he should 
be allowed to resign, or that only those commanders who 
had absolute trust in his judgment should be allowed to 
assist him. A man does not require to be a soldier to know 
that no plan, however good, has much prospect of success 
if those charged with its execution think that it will end in 
failure. No one has so heavy a load of anxiety to bear in 
war as a Commander-in-Chief, who carries in his hands the 
hves of his men, and there is no greater addition to this load 
than the knowledge, or suspicion, that he does not possess 
the confidence both of his subordinates and superiors. 

General Petain accomplished valuable work in puUing 
together the French armies after their ill-success, and I 
doubt if any one could have done it better. I had not seen 
much of him before he took over his new command, but 
afterwards we frequently met. He was essentially practical, 
held sound ideas on tactics and strategy, and it was at all 
times a pleasure to work with him. 

He was succeeded as Chief of the French General Staff — 
a post he had held for about a fortnight only — by General 
Foch. This General had been in semi-retirement for the 
previous five months, having been removed in December 



310 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

1916 from the command of the '' Groupe des Armees du 
Nord " — our next-door neighbours from the time we arrived 
in Flanders in 19 14 — and had afterwards held temporary 
command of the " Groupe des Armees de I'Est " whilst 
General de Castelnau was away with the inter-allied mission 
sent to Russia. Before his removal from the command 
in the north General Foch had been, next to General 
Joffre, one of the most prominent French leaders, and the 
omission to make greater use of his talents between 
December 1916 and May 19 17 may seem incomprehensible 
when it is remembered that he was destined to become 
the Generalissimo of the allied armies, and to lead them 
to complete victory from a situation which threatened 
to involve them in complete defeat. The reader may find 
an explanation of the omission in my later remarks on the 
subject of unity of command. 

I saw much of General Foch whilst serving in France 
in 1914-15, and had several conversations with him when 
visiting France in my capacity as C.I.G.S. In reply to a 
letter I sent him at the end of 1916 he wrote : 

3.1. 17. 
MoN CHER G^N^RAL — Je vous rcmercie des sentiments que 
vous m'exprimez au moment ou je quitte le contact immediat de 
I'armee Britannique. J'ai pu apprecier toute sa valeur dans 
les jours difficiles du debut de la guerre notamment, comme 
aussi la droiture et I'energie qui ont toujours inspire son com- 
mandement, vous en particulier. Si nous avons vaincu, si nous 
avons d'abord arrets la formidable invasion, c'est bien a notre 
union sincere et etroite que nous le devons. L'histoire nous 
rendra cette justice que jamais Allies ne travaillerent ensemble 
d'un coeur si uni. Vous comprendrez facilement comme ces 
souvenirs me sOnt precieux quand ils me reviennent traces par 
votre plume. Vous avez aujourd'hui une grande et magnifique 
arm^e. Les directions que vous lui donnez sont des plus heureuses. 
Nous pouvons en toute confiance envisager I'avenir. Je n'en 
reste pas moins par I'esprit pres d'eUe, dans le souvenir et dans 
I'espoir le plus absolu. C'est dans ces sentiments, mon cher 
general, que je me dis — Tout ci vous, F. Foch. 

[Translation. 

I thank you for the sentiments you express at the moment 
when I sever my connection with the British army. I have 




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GENERAL FOCH 311 

learned to appreciate its worth, especially in the difficult days 
at the beginning of the war, as well as the honesty and energy 
of its commanders and of yourself in particular. If we have 
succeeded, if we have at the first checked the enemy's formidable 
invasion, it is entirely due to the sincere and intimate relations 
that have existed between us. History will do us the justice 
to say that no allies ever worked together with greater single- 
mindedness of purpose. You will readily understand that I 
value these recollections the more, coming as they do from you. 
You now have a large and magnificent army. The directions 
you are giving it are perfectly sound. We may look forward to 
the future with full confidence. Having these thoughts in mind, 
and with implicit faith, I shall be with your army in spirit no less 
than before. It is with these feelings, my dear General, that I 
subscribe myself — Yours always, F. Foch.] 

When he became Chief of the French General Staff in 
19 17 our relations became still closer, and from first to last 
I do not remember any appreciable difference of opinion 
between us with regard to the general Lines upon which the 
war should be prosecuted. He, like myself, held that the 
only sound policy for the Allies to pursue was to con- 
centrate as far as possible all their strength against the 
principal enemy, and anything which, without good cause, 
entailed a departure from this principle he abhorred as much 
as I did. 

He was exceedingly easy and pleasant to work with, this 
doubtless being due in a great measure to his ability to 
understand the English temperament. We Allied Generals 
always found it difficult to appreciate each other's point of 
view and methods, but I believe that Foch found less 
difficulty than others, and this advantage must have been 
very helpful to him when he became Generalissimo. Of his 
other qualifications for this position it would be unbecoming 
of me to speak as they are within the knowledge of every- 
body, and it is no disparagement of them to say that he 
was fortunate in being allowed, as a result of the gravity 
of the situation when he assumed command, to make and 
carry out his plans with a comparatively free hand. 

On the 7th of June our 2nd Army won a brilliant victory 
by the capture of the Messines Ridge — a masterpiece of 
modem tactics — and this opened the way for the third 



312 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

battle of Ypres, which commenced on the 31st of July and 
did not terminate until the first week in November. This 
battle, better known as Passchendaele, was fought for the 
most part under atrocious conditions of weather ; impassable 
mud and unfordable craters covered the whole German 
front ; and no praise could do justice to the sufferings and 
achievements of the British soldier in this long and terrible 
struggle. Further to the south we attacked the enemy 
at Cambrai on the 20th of November, the fighting here 
being continued until the 7th of December. This action 
brought the operations on the West Front to a close for 
the year. 

Meanwhile, in the last week of October, the 2nd Italian 
Army, demoralised by insidious propaganda, had been 
heavily defeated at Caporetto by the Austrians (reinforced 
for the first time by some German divisions), and this led 
to a general retreat to the line of the Piave. The battle 
commenced on Wednesday the 24th of October, and about 
two days later, when we first became aware of the extent 
of the disaster, General Foch and I agreed, with the approval 
of our Governments, to reinforce the Italians with five 
divisions each from the West Front. During my visit to 
Italy the previous March I had discussed with General 
Cadorna the question of sending troops to his assistance in 
case of need, and subsequently, working in conjunction with 
the French and Italian staffs, detailed arrangements were 
made by my staff for the transport of the reinforcing troops 
by rail and, as far as possible, for their dispositions and 
employment on arrival. Consequently no delay was incurred 
when the need for these troops arose. 

The reports we received from Italy regarding the number 
of German divisions present were of an alarming kind, the 
number given varying between fifteen and thirty. Judging 
from our own sources of intelligence, and bearing in mind 
the strain imposed upon the enemy by our offensive in 
Flanders, it was impossible to believe that more than seven 
or eight divisions had been sent. This proved to be correct, 
and the only two divisions that had been taken from 
the West Front were at once replaced by two others from 
the Russian front. 




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THE ITALIAN FRONT 313 

On Sunday the 28th of October, the news received having 
become still more serious, I motored over to Walton Heath 
to see the Prime Minister, as soon as I had finished my 
morning's work, to suggest to him that I should go to 
Italy, ascertain the true state of affairs, and arrange to 
give further assistance if it was really required. As our 
divisions had been fighting almost continuously since the 
previous April they needed time to rest and refit, and I was 
averse from sending more than the five if it could be avoided. 
The Prime Minister agreed to my going and I left London 
early next morning, reaching General Cadoma's headquarters 
on the Wednesday. I found him at Treviso, Udine, his 
previous headquarters, having been occupied by the enemy 
two days before. Having discussed matters with him, and 
observed the condition of the retreating troops, I telegraphed 
my report to the War Cabinet, and then proceeded to Rome 
in order to see the Italian War Minister before returning to 
London. 

While at Rome I was the guest of Sir Rennell Rodd, the 
British ambassador, to whom I am very grateful for the 
hospitality Lady Rodd and he were good enough to show 
me. On the Saturday evening, just as I was about to start 
for the railway station, I received instructions from London 
that certain members of the War Cabinet were leaving for 
Italy to confer with the French and Italian ministers, and 
to consider the question of forming a Supreme War Council. 
I was requested to be present, and will deal with the forma- 
tion of this Council and the whole question of so-called 
" unity of command " after making a few observations on 
certain plans suggested during 19 17 as alternatives to full 
concentration of effort on the West Front, and after dis- 
cussing the general situation as it appeared to the General 
Staff at the end of the year. 

These alternative plans having been already described 
by several public writers, their principal features are 
generally weU known. The first one put forward was that 
proposed early in January for an offensive across the ItaHan 
front, its object being to " knock out " Austria and so 
bring down Germany, and British troops from the West 
Front, to the extent required, were to be employed. As 



314 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

far as I could understand, those in favour of this plan 
argued that our best policy in future would be to attack 
the enemy not where he was strongest, namely on the 
West Front, but where he was weakest. I doubt if they 
sufficiently bore in mind that if it would be to our advantage 
to ** knock out " Austria, Germany would try to prevent 
her from being knocked out, and a glance at the map of 
Europe will show that she was far better placed than we 
were for transferring troops to the Italian front, and there- 
fore could always hope to coimter our offensive designs in 
that direction. 

Put in another way, and leaving out of account the 
dubious conclusion that the defeat of the weak (Austria) 
would involve the downfall of the strong (Germany), the 
pohcy of attacking the weak could only be justified on the 
assumption that we could in the meantime pin the strong 
to his present positions, otherwise the attempt to fight the 
former might merely lead to fighting the latter in another 
place. As no such assumption could be entertained the 
proposal was fundamentally unsound. 

General Cadorna was entrusted with the duty of working 
out the details preparatory to a final decision being given, 
but before he had completed his task the plan had been 
superseded by the acceptance meanwhile of Nivelle's plan, 
which entailed the employment of the full strength of our 
armies on the West Front, and was itself a substitute for 
the Chantilly plan. 

Another plan was that suggested early in October for 
transferring divisions from the West Front to operate 
against the Turks from the vicinity of Alexandre tt a. A 
project for sending an expedition to this region had first 
been mooted in December 19 14, and there was then some- 
thing to be said in its favour, but the Dardanelles enterprise 
began to take shape soon afterwards and for the moment 
put an end to it. It was revived in the autumn of 19 15 
when the evacuation of the Dardanelles had to be con- 
sidered, and as circumstances had meanwhile changed to 
our disadvantage it was then properly rejected by the 
General Staff, just before I became C.I.G.S,, and was again 
dropped. 



THE ALEXANDRETTA PLAN 315 

It was still more impracticable in October 1917, for 
the enemy's communications had been much improved; 
he was in a position seriously to oppose an attempted 
landing ; and his submarines, of which there were none in 
the Mediterranean in 1914, were now particularly active. 
Further, at least six divisions must be sent, requiring for 
their transport about a milHon tons of shipping, and the 
Entente were already at their wits' end to know how to 
find ships for the thousands of American troops waiting 
to cross the Atlantic, for maintaining the large forces then 
employed in eastern theatres, and for meeting their own 
domestic requirements. 

These were, however, but insignificant objections as 
compared with the very obvious one that the operation 
could not possibly be carried out in sufficient time to admit 
of the divisions being brought back by the spring, when a 
heavy attack on the West Front might have to be met. 
Instead of sending them on such an absurd errand it was 
important that they should be given opportunities for rest 
and training before being called upon to meet the attack 
with which we were threatened. 

Being required to advise upon the project at short 
notice, I examined it one Sunday morning at a conference 
held in the War Office, the First Sea Lord, the Deputy First 
Sea Lord, and representatives of the railway and shipping 
authorities being present, and our conclusions were such 
that the proposal had once more to be laid aside. This 
proved to be fortunate when, a week or two later, it 
became necessary to assist the ItaUans by sending divisions 
from the West Front, and still more so when the German 
offensive on that front had to be met in March 1918. 

Although the Alexandretta plan was abandoned, the 
theory that the principal enemy could be overthrown by 
the defeat of a minor one was not yet extinct ; and following 
on Allenby's successes in Palestine at the end of the year 
it was suggested that he should continue and develop his 
operations with the object of putting the Turkish armies 
completely out of the war. The General Staff were unable 
to regard this plan with any more favour than that accorded 
to its predecessor, but it found supporters at Versailles, and 



3i6 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

at the conference held there at the end of January and 
beginning of February 1918 its adoption was recommended, 
subject to the West Front being made secure. 

A recommendation of this sort was not of much value, 
since it left unanswered the vital question as to the means 
required to make and keep the West Front secure, and 
whether, after providing them, there would remain over 
suf&cient troops for Allenby. To submit for approval a plan 
depending upon conditions of a purely mihtary character 
was to throw upon the Supreme War Council — that is, upon 
civihan ministers — a task which did not come within either 
its province or its competency to perform. The advocates of 
the plan were not entitled to have it both ways, and to place 
themselves in the happy position of the man who can say, 
** heads I win, tails you lose." It was for them, before 
submitting their recommendation, definitely to make up 
their minds as to whether there were sufficient troops for 
the double purpose of an absolutely reUable defensive in 
France and a really effective offensive against the Turks, 
remembering at the same time that the transfer of divisions 
backwards and forwards between Picardy and Palestine 
could not be accompUshed by a stroke of the pen, but would 
be a matter of many weeks and much shipping. If the 
answer was in the affirmative the plan would, to that 
extent, be justified ; if in the negative, the plan ought to 
be pronounced impracticable, and in unequivocal terms. 

With a large part of their country in German hands, 
and with the constant arrival of German divisions from 
the Russian front, it was not to be expected, apart from 
what may be called mere strategy, that the French would 
look upon the plan with any marked approval, and after 
some discussion it was settled that no troops should be 
taken away from the West Front. Even this compromise 
was liable to react detrimentally in respect of drafts and 
other matters, and, what was still more important, it pre- 
vented the West Front, where we obviously could not be 
too strong, from being reinforced by troops that could safely 
be brought away from Palestine. I therefore strongly 
advised against it, but it was accepted, and accordingly 
no troops were withdrawn from Palestine until this was 



SIR CHARLES MONRO 317 

enforced by the enemy's attack in France some six or 
seven weeks later. 

The aim of the General Staff had for long been to replace 
British infantry in eastern theatres by native infantry from 
India, and then entrust the Palestine operations to the latter 
and mounted men, both of whom could be spared from 
the decisive theatre. The question of raising more native 
battalions was first taken up in 1916, when Sir Charles 
Monro became Commander-in-Chief, and, thanks to his 
co-operation and administrative ability, about a hundred 
and fifty battahons as well as other units were added to the 
Indian army, being sent to Palestine or Mesopotamia as 
soon as ready. Indirectly, therefore, he had a notable share 
in the success of the Palestine campaign of 1918, for when, 
in September of that year, the offensive was carried out 
against Damascus and Aleppo nearly three-fourths of the 
infantry belonged to these same Indian battahons, the bulk 
of the British infantry having before that time been hurried 
off post-haste to the West Front. 

As can be imagined, it was a most unpleasant duty to 
have to oppose plans of operations which ministers wished 
to see adopted, especially on those occasions — ^fortunately 
very rare — when it had to be performed before Alhes. The 
Palestine plan, supported by the Prime Minister, was an 
instance of this, and immediately after the meeting at 
Versailles at which the project was discussed I expressed 
my regret that I had been obhged, in the presence of foreign 
delegates, to differ from him, and assured him that I had 
done so with the greatest reluctance, and only because of the 
risks involved with respect to the situation on the West 
Front. I represented to him that if I had remained silent the 
other delegates would naturally have thought that I agreed 
with the proposal, or at any rate had no particular objection 
to it ; that my name would appear in the conference 
proceedings and, in case of future reference, would imply 
agreement unless my objections were recorded ; and I re- 
minded him that naval and military officers had been pubUcly 
condemned in the past for neglecting to state their opinions 
on professional questions brought before conferences to 
which they had been summoned, and therefore that I was 



3i8 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

placed in the dilemma of having to choose between lajdng 
myself open to the same charge, and giving offence to 
ministers with whom it was essential, in the general interest, 
that I should work in harmony. 

The Prime Minister did not agree with this way of 
looking at things, and was angry at the course I had taken. 
He said that as I had already informed him of my objections 
there was no necessity to repeat them at the conference, and 
that it was sufficient that he should know them. He then 
turned away, leaving me wondering why I had been in- 
structed to attend the conference if not for the purpose of 
giving advice when important military questions were under 
discussion. 

I may explain that I had especially in mind the remarks 
made regarding the duty of naval and military advisers by 
the Dardanelles Commission a few months before. For the 
convenience of the reader I will quote a portion of them : 

We also think that the naval advisers should have expressed 
their views to the (War) Council, whether asked or not, if they 
considered that the project which the Council was about to adopt 
was impracticable from a naval point of view. 

We are unable to concur in the view set forth by Lord Fisher 
that it was his duty, if he differed from the Chief of his Depart- 
ment, to maintain silence at the Council or to resign. We think 
that the adoption of any such principle generally would impair the 
ef&ciency of the public service. 

The following also appears in the report : 

Mr. Lloyd George did not concur in the description given by 
Lord Fisher of the position he occupied in the War Council. On 
being asked the question, " If the experts present did not express 
dissent, did you assume that they assented to what was done ? " 
he repUed, " Certainly." 

Several other ministers gave similar evidence on this 
point, the conclusion drawn from it by the Commissioners 
being that : 

The Chairman and ministerial members of the War Council 
looked to the naval and military experts to express their opinions 
if they dissented from the views put forward by the heads of 
their respective departments. 



ALTERNATIVE PLANS 319 

To revert to the recurring desire to start new plans or 
change old ones, it has to be remembered that the same 
thing has happened in other wars, particularly in those 
of long duration. It was the more Hkely to be a feature of 
the Great War because the latter was of such dimensions 
as to affect every part of the national Hfe, and miUtary 
operations thereby passed to an unprecedented extent under 
the control of ministers — that is, of men untrained in either 
the theory or practice of war. A further inducement to 
make changes of plan was the comparative ease with which, 
in appearance, they could be arranged owing to the greater 
facihties afforded by modern means of communication. 

It is not my purpose to enlarge upon the evils which 
accompany the tendency to change from one plan to another 
— at bewilderingly short intervals and without sufficient 
miUtary reason — beyond observing that it has an unsetthng 
effect on the troops, and monopolises much of the time of 
commanders and their staffs which ought to be given to 
other matters. At a guess I would say that in 1917 at least 
twenty per cent of the time of the General Staff at the War 
Office was occupied in explaining, either verbally or in 
writing, that the alternative projects put forward were either 
strategically unsound or were wholly impracticable. 

The General Staff must expect to have the same 
experience in future wars, and they must try neither to 
despair nor to become impatient, but they wiU not find 
these precepts easy to practise, and for myself I must confess 
to frequent failures. Much will depend on the personaHty of 
ministers and of their responsible professional advisers, and 
whether the former have sufficient confidence in the latter 
to accept their opinion without asking for it to be sub- 
stantiated in every detail by lengthy memoranda and 
tabulated statements, or by the test of pohce court cross- 
examination and a bout in dialectics. 

I say " responsible " advisers because advice given by 
others, although they may be professionals, is often without 
value and may be positively mischievous. Such advice 
poses as being expert, whereas the person who gives it can 
seldom possess the information on which to base a reliable 
opinion, and as he is not responsible for the execution of 



320 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

his proposals his outlook is quite different from that of 
the person who has the responsibility. I frequently told 
ministers that if I were not C.I.G.S. I could produce half-a- 
dozen different plans for winning the war, quickly and at 
small cost, but as it was I had but one plan, and that a 
hard one to carry out — the defeat of the German armies on 
the West Front. 

The task of keeping the strategical direction of the war 
on right lines became harder as the end of 1917 approached. 
For more than three years we had endured terrible sacrifices 
without victory being either achieved or coming clearly 
within sight, the German barrier was still intact, Russia 
had made terms with the enemy, Italy had been severely 
defeated, and for these and other reasons misgivings arose 
in the minds of some people as to whether we could after 
all hope to win through. 

I do not refer to those who were accused — sometimes 
quite unjustly — of being pacifists, but to those who, in 1917 
as in 19 16, could see only their own difficulties and losses, 
and apparently would never be prepared to admit that the 
enemy had suffered from either unless and until he wrote 
them a letter to that effect. This attitude of mind was not 
only stupid but grossly unfair to our men and their leaders. 
The British General Staff in France have since had the 
satisfaction of finding their views regarding the state of 
German morale in 19 17 confirmed by Ludendorff, who has 
said that " The (German) troops had borne the continuous 
defensive with extreme difficulty. Skulkers were cdready 
numerous. They reappeared as soon as the battle was over, 
and it had become quite common for divisions which came 
out of action with desperately low effectives to be consider- 
ably stronger after only a few days. Against the weight of 
the enemy's material the troops no longer displayed their 
old stubbornness ; they thought with horror of fresh 
defensive battles and longed for the war of movement. 
. . . There had been incidents, too, which indicated that 
their cohesion was no longer the same." 

Although there could at the time be no certainty as to 
the actual amount of progress made in wearing down the 
enemy's power of resistance, we knew enough to feel 



THE SUPREME EFFORT 321 

satisfied that there was no occasion for either gloom or 
despair provided we were prepared to face the music. It 
was with the object of preventing despondency from arising 
in the pubHc mind that as early as the month of July I 
took advantage of a speech I had been asked to make to 
point out that " There comes a time in every war when 
each side has to put forward its greatest effort, when the 
strain becomes greater every day, and when a httle extra 
effort may suf&ce to turn the scale. That time has come 
now, and in this war as in all wars victory will incHne 
to that side which best retains its cohesion and confidence." 

There were other people who, with more justification 
than the pessimists I have mentioned, doubted if we could 
decisively win as early as 19 18, and argued that we ought 
not to make the attempt until 1919, by which time the 
output of tanks, aeroplanes, and other mechanical means 
of warfare would be enormously increased, and America 
would be able to exert her full strength. 

Questions of the above nature had several times to be 
dealt with by the General Staff towards the end of 1917, 
and although we were able to dispose of those which threw 
doubt upon the ability of the Entente ultimately to emerge 
victorious — always provided that the armies were not 
starved for men — ^it was not so easy to advise on the best 
military policy to be followed in the year 1918 — that is, as 
to whether a supreme effort to win should be made then 
or should be deferred till the following year. 

Had we been engaged in a war in which the British army 
alone were fighting a single belligerent, and in which 
considerations other than these of a purely military character 
were of little or no account, a definite opinion could have 
been formed with comparative ease. But nothing resembled 
these conditions in a world war of some twenty or more 
nations, and there were many factors about which we could 
not possibly make a reliable forecast, such as the poHtical, 
social, and economic situation and the general staying power 
of the different members of the Entente, the effect of 
submarine warfare, the naval and shipping position, and 
food production. I used to estimate that of the total effort 
of which the nation was capable only twenty-five per cent 

Y 



322 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

was purely military, the remaining seventy-five per cent 
being of a non-military nature ; and when asked sometimes 
what our chances of winning were, I would reply : '* Why 
ask me, with my twenty-five per cent ? Ask those who 
manipulate the seventy-five." 

But certain elements stood out quite clearly, one of the 
most comforting being the continued staunchness of the 
men and women of the Empire, who only asked of their 
leaders to teU them, without hesitation, what they were 
required to do in order to win, and this being so there was 
no insuperable difficulty in reaching a conclusion which 
would be sufficiently reliable for all practical purposes. 

The total collapse of Russia, the defeat of the ItaHans, 
the depletion of the French reserves of man-power, the 
imsatisfactory position in regard to drafts for our own 
armies, and the probability that, owing to the alleged 
scarcity of sea- transport, America would not have a really 
large force in Europe before the autumn of 1918, all pointed 
to the necessity of adopting a defensive policy in that 
year, or at any rate for the greater part of it. This did not 
mean, as some seemed to think, that in the meantime we 
should not be called upon to fight, or that we could do just 
as much or as little fighting as we chose. On the contrary it 
meant that, as the initiative would rest with the enemy, he 
and not we would dictate the amount of fighting to be done. 
If a waiting poHcy on the West Front would be of advantage 
to us, obviously it would be to the disadvantage of the enemy, 
who might therefore be trusted to try and force a decision 
as quickly as possible, and the arrival of six divisions from 
the Russian front in November and nineteen in December 
was a sufficient indication that this was his intention. 

Again, his economic conditions were known to be worse 
than those of the Entente, and his recent peace proposals 
showed that he felt compelled to bring the war to an end 
with the least delay. Further, the strain to which his 
troops had been subjected by our persistent attacks on the 
. West Front would be aggravated by cold and want during 
the coming winter, and might well reach breaking point 
before the expiration of 19 18 if those attacks were resumed 
and as relentlessly pushed home as in the previous year. 



THE ENEMY'S PLAN 323 

Assuming that it was to the enemy's interest to win such 
a success before we could further increase our resources, and 
before America could effectively intervene, as would bring 
the war to an end — at least for the time being — the next 
question was, where would he make his main attack ? He 
had three objectives, the Channel coast, Paris, and Italy, and 
of these the first and third could hardly be regarded as feasible 
before the month of May on account of climatic conditions. 
This delay would not suit the enemy's purpose. The second 
objective was feasible at almost any season, and the attack 
could be aimed at the point of junction between the British 
and French armies, which, as everybody knows, is the danger 
point. 

Macedonia might perhaps be regarded as a fourth ob- 
jective, but the Bulgarians had apparently no intention of 
doing any more fighting if they could help it ; the country 
was difficult and the commimications bad ; and in any case 
a victory here could not be rehed upon to cause the Entente 
to come to terms. Ludendorff had hitherto not seemed to 
agree with the views of Falkenhayn, who was always a 
" westerner " of the most pronounced type, and has de- 
clared that " No decision in the east, even though it were 
as thorough as it was possible to imagine, could spare us 
from fighting to a conclusion in the west." But by the end 
of 1917, with the experiences of 1916 and 1917 behind him, 
it was to be supposed that even Ludendorff, notwithstanding 
his eastern tendencies, would reahse that he could never 
win until he had gained a complete victory in the west, 
and that the sooner he made the attempt the greater would 
be his chance of winning. As a matter of fact he did realise 
it, though at the time we could only guess that he might, 
for he has admitted that " The condition of our Allies and 
of our army all called for an offensive that would bring 
about an early decision. This was only possible on the 
western front. All that had gone before was only a means 
to the one end of creating a situation that would make it a 
feasible operation. ... I set aside all idea of attacking in 
Macedonia or Italy. All that mattered was to get together 
enough troops for an attack in the west." 

After a long and careful review of the whole situation 



324 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

the conclusions I reached towards the end of 1917 were 
that the campaign of 19 19 might never come ; that although 
there were strong reasons why we should defer offensive 
action on the West Front in 1918 until the Americans arrived 
in full strength, we might, quite apart from the question of 
whether we should or should not dehberately aim at obtain- 
ing a decision that year, be compelled by the enemy, in 
self-defence alone, to fight our hardest ; that he might 
commence his attack at any time from February onwards, 
according to the rate at which he could bring over his 
surplus divisions from Russia ; and, finally, that we must 
be prepared to endure in 19 18 a greater strain than any 
we had yet undergone. The corollary of these conclusions 
was that we should at once send to the West Front every 
man, gun, and aeroplane we could lay hands on, and make 
available every ship we could for helping the Americans to 
bring over their divisions as quickly as possible. // this 
were done we might confidently hope to break up the enemy's 
offensive, while the gradually increasing strength of the 
American troops might enable us to seek and obtain a 
final decision before the year expired. 

Shipping and men were, as for months past, the cardinal 
factors, and we used to calculate that, to maintain a given 
number of men in Eg3rpt or Salonika, the amount of shipping 
required was some six times greater than that required to 
maintain the same number on the West Front. There were 
towards the end of 19 17 probably no fewer than 1,200,000 
men in distant theatres, who, be it noted, were mainly 
fighting Turks and Bulgars and not Germans, and although 
a large proportion of them were native troops and therefore 
not altogether suitable for employment in France, they 
contained a considerable number of British troops who 
could well be spared without incurring any risk, as our 
successes in Palestine and Mesopotamia had removed all 
danger to Egypt, Persia, and India. By reducing our forces 
in these theatres to a defensive minimum we would set free 
not only more troops for the West Front but also more 
shipping for the Americans. As already shown, this was 
not done. 

Towards the end of 1916 the enemy had made a flashy 



REVIEWING THE ENEMY PLAN 325 

attempt to score points by overrunning Rumania, but in 
the west, according to Ludendorff, he had been " fought to 
a standstill." Fortunately for him, at this particular 
moment Joffre was superseded, Foch shelved, and Nivelle's 
plan adopted in place of that proposed at the Chantilly con- 
ference. The result of this change of plan was that when 
the enemy withdrew in February 1917 to the Hindenburg 
Line he got away without serious molestation, broke up 
Nivelle's plan to some extent, and, while it was being re- 
constructed, gained time for that rest and recuperation 
which his troops so sorely needed. Instead of enjoying this 
advantage he would have had to submit to further punish- 
ment if the Chantilly plan had held good, as the direction 
it gave to the projected offensive would not have been so 
greatly interfered with as was the case with the operations 
which Nivelle had designed. The Russian revolution brought 
the enemy further rehef from his difficulties ; he derived 
some moral and material advantage from his imrestricted 
submarine warfare ; and in the month of October he 
repeated his Rumanian adventure in Italy with considerable 
success. 

On the other hand his troops on the West Front had 
suffered very heavily, both in numbers and morale, from the 
determined attacks to which they were subjected throughout 
the year, and this, coupled with the powerful addition to 
the Entente strength afforded by the entry of America into 
the war, would undoubtedly have made his position httle, 
if any, less serious at the end of 19 17 than it was at the end 
of 1916 had not so many of our troops been locked up in 
secondary theatres, and had not our divisions been so 
reduced in strength owing to the lack of drafts. 

The situation being what it was, the armies on the West 
Front were once again unable to reap the fruits of their 
efforts, and it was even conceivable that, in warding off 
the attack which threatened them, they might become so 
depleted and exhausted as to find it very difficult to hold 
on until sufficient American troops arrived to redress the 
balance, while at the best it was to be feared that they 
would lose heavily in men and guns. The year therefore 
closed with considerable anxiety as to the future, and this 



326 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

was increased in January by the arrival of more German 
divisions from Russia. 

With regard to shipping, I may add that the Admiralty 
Staff, whose views on the question of strategy coincided 
with those of the General Staff, had for long wished to cut 
down the tonnage employed in distant waters, because of 
the difficulty of finding naval escorts to protect the transports 
against the enemy's submarines, especially after it became 
necessary to help i in safeguarding the passage of American 
troops across the Atlantic. 

It was obvious from the day that America declared war, 
the 6th April, that the rate at which she could make her 
assistance felt would be governed by sea-transport, and in 
the numerous consultations I had with General Pershing, 
General Bliss, and other American representatives between 
the summer of 1917 and February 1918, it was always 
found that the troops which could be made ready for 
despatch by a certain date were much in excess of the 
tonnage said to be procurable. These two generals dis- 
played every desire to expedite the arrival of their troops, 
and were prepared to meet the British General Staff more 
than half-way in any suggestion put forward which might 
conduce to that end, but of course nothing substantial 
could be accomplished unless the requisite shipping was 
forthcoming. 

The question was constantly discussed, but no satisfactory 
decision was reached. Everybody was short of shipping, 
and everybody wished to use for themselves what they had 
or could borrow from others. The General Staff, having 
no jurisdiction over the matter and no certain knowledge 
of it, could do no more than advise that the operations in 
the distant theatres should be so restricted as to ensure 
the greatest economy in shipping, and continue to emphasise 
the importance of gettiag the American troops into France. 
It rested with the Government to say, on the advice of the 
shipping and other departments, what amount of tonnage 
could be provided for the latter purpose. The problem 
was beset with many difficulties, but I cannot help thinking 
that all the countries concerned could have done more in 
19 1 7 to solve it than they did, seeing what was accomplished 



UNITY OF COMMAND 327 

in the spring of 1918 under pressure of the German offen- 
sive. Exactly by what means transports were then found 
to convey the large number of troops brought over with 
such astonishing rapidity I do not know, as I had ceased 
to be C.I.G.S., but the tonnage provided was far in excess 
of the amount previously said to be procurable. 

I now come to the question of " unity of command/' 
and it is no exaggeration to say at once that the measures 
taken under its name at the well-known Rapallo and Ver- 
sailles conferences resulted not in unif37ing the command of 
the armies but in dividing it, thus making it more com- 
phcated than before. 

As early as the autumn of 1915 various proposals were 
put forward, both by ministers and soldiers, for setting up 
some form of AlUed body charged with ensuring more unified 
action and whole-hearted co-operation, but for reasons 
unknown to me they failed to materialise. Some progress 
was made, however, in the required direction in that con- 
ferences between the AUied ministers and AUied miUtary 
authorities took place much more frequently during 1916 
than they had previously done. 

In February 19 17, as already told, Nivelle was given 
command of the Franco-British armies engaged in the 
operations designed by him in lieu of those recommended 
at the Chantilly conference in November 19 16, but this 
merely placed the commander of one army in temporary 
command of another for a particular purpose, and did 
nothing to ensure permanent co-ordination and direction of 
the Entente operations in general. 

Nivelle' s failure to provide the expected victory checked 
for the time any further desire on the part of ministers to 
try new systems of command, and nothing more was heard 
of the matter for some months so far as they were concerned. 
The AlHed military authorities, however, discussed it in the 
summer of 1917, when considering the effect of the Russian 
collapse and the consequent probability that a defensive 
role would be imposed upon us pending the arrival of the 
Americans, and their deliberations favoured the establish- 
ment of an inter-aUied staff, to be located at Paris, but 
again nothing came of the idea. 



328 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

The question next came up at the Rapallo conference 
in November, after the Italian reverse, and it was then 
decided to form a " Supreme War Council " consisting of 
the Prime Minister and one other minister of each of the 
Great Powers. Each of these Powers was to delegate a 
permanent military representative as " technical adviser '* 
to the Council. These officers were to have no executive 
power, but to act only in an advisory capacity. It was 
arranged that the Council should have its permanent head- 
quarters at Versailles, though its meetings would not neces- 
sarily always be held there. 

The establishment of the Council filled a much-felt want, 
for it enabled ministers to meet regularly, helped to secure 
co-ordination of national poUcies, the proceedings could be 
properly recorded by the permanent secretariat, and in 
many ways it furthered the methodical despatch of business. 
But it should be noted that, although the object of setting 
up the Council was to ensure the better co-ordination of 
military action, the members of the Council were ministers, 
and therefore it was a poHtical and not a military body. 
Consequently, it did nothing to improve the system of 
military command, while in one respect it struck deeply at 
the root principle of all mihtary organisation, in that the 
" technical advisers " were empowered to advise the Council, 
i.e. their ministers, independently of their General Staffs. 

It is the right of a government to select its own pro- 
fessional advisers and to change them as often as it pleases, 
but it ought not to appoint independent advisers in addition, 
for such a proceeding must produce divided responsibility, 
delay, friction, and confusion. No business, military or 
other, could be smoothly and efficiently conducted if the 
board of directors employed two separate managers to 
advise them on the work of one and the same department, 
more especially if one of the managers were responsible for 
carr3^ng out the instructions of the board, while the other 
had no such responsibility. 

In order to avoid all risks in this respect the French 
nominated as their representative General Weygand, the 
deputy of their Chief of the General Staff ; the Itahans were 
represented by an officer deputed by General Cadoma, their 



APPOINTMENT OF A GENERALISSIMO 329 

Chief of the General Staff ; and the Americans nominated 
their Chief of the Staff, General Bliss. The British repre- 
sentative, appointed by the War Cabinet, was alone given 
a position not under the Chief of the General Staff of the 
army to which he belonged. 

It seems clear that, in setting up the Coimcil, the real 
object of ministers was not so much to provide effective 
unity of military command as to acquire for themselves a 
greater control over the military chiefs. That there was no 
intention of unifying the command by the appointment of an 
Allied Commander-in-Chief seems equally evident, not only 
from the constitution of the Council itself, but also from 
the fact that a few days later the Prime Minister stated 
in the House of Commons that he was ** utterly opposed " 
to the appointment of a Generalissimo, as it " would produce 
real friction and might create prejudice not merely between 
the armies but between the nations and governments.'' 

Irrespective of what the Prime Minister may or may 
not have had in his mind when using these words, I may 
point out that, before agreeing to the appointment of a 
Generanssimo,itwas essential that the Allied ministers should 
be agreed amongst themselves as to the poUcy they wished 
to see carried out, since without " unity " of policy the 
establishment of so-called " unity " of command might lead 
to the operations being conducted in the interests of one 
ally rather than of the others, and so defeat its own ends. 
Whether these considerations had any influence on the 
Rapallo decision I do not know, nor shall I discuss the 
extent to which unity of poHcy existed. 

The creation of a properly constituted High Command 
became a matter of increased importance in January 19 18, 
as it was imperative that strong strategical reserves should 
be available for use when and where required to deal with 
the expected German attack, and to ensure this the inter- 
vention of some authority superior to the French and British 
Commanders-in-Chief was necessary. For example, the 
British and French fronts might be attacked simultaneously, 
in which case it might be advisable to give ground on one front 
in order to furnish additional troops for a counter-stroke 
on the other. Or one front alone might at first be attacked 



330 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

and be in need of help, while the Commander-in-Chief of 
the other might be expecting an equally heavy attack to 
be made upon himself later, and therefore not feel justified 
in sending assistance to his colleague. In circumstances 
such as these, it would only be natural that the two Com- 
manders-in-Chief should consider themselves bound both by 
their duty to their governments and their troops to take a 
local rather than a general view of the situation. Other 
cases might be quoted — such as the despatch of further 
reinforcements to Italy — in which some superior authority 
ought to step in and, having assessed the relative importance 
of the different fronts, issue such instructions to the 
Commanders-in-Chief as would best further the success of 
the operations in general. 

In my opinion it was ridiculous to think that control 
over the strategical reserves could be separated from control 
over the operations as a whole, and therefore, faihng the 
appointment of a Generalissimo — to which the Prime 
Minister had told parliament he was opposed — the duty 
must be performed jointly by the Chiefs of the General 
Staff, the responsible executive officers of the Govern- 
ments. I communicated these views in a memorandum 
I sent to the Prime Minister on the 30th of January- 
while attending the Versailles conference previously men- 
tioned. They were concurred in by Sir Douglas Haig and 
Generals Foch and Petain at a meeting we held next day, 
and arrangements for putting them into practice, including 
the formation of an Allied Staff, were discussed by General 
Foch and myself. 

On the 1st of February the subject was considered by the 
Supreme War Council, and it was then suggested that the 
duty in question should be vested in the " technical 
advisers " of the Council. No decision was reached, and as 
it was important that the matter should be put on a sound 
footing, I sent to the Prime Minister a second memorandum 
in which I again advocated the principle of assigning the 
duty to the Chiefs of the General Staff. When the Council 
met on the following day, however, it was decided to adopt 
the alternative system, and the technical advisers thus 
became an " Executive Committee/* with General Foch as 



THE SUPREME WAR COUNCIL 331 

president. The committee was empowered to determine the 
strength, dispositions, and employment of the strategical 
reserves, and to issue orders thereon to the Commanders- 
in-Chief. In short, it was made to constitute the High 
Command of the Allied armies. 

I took Httle or no part in the discussion at this second 
meeting, as it did not seem either appropriate or desirable 
for me to intervene. The proposal to utiUse the technical ad- 
visers in the manner indicated had emanated from ministers 
themselves ; my impression was that they had made up their 
minds to adopt it ; I had already recommended a system 
of a totally different nature ; and, moreover, the selection 
of officers to exercise the powers of High Command rested 
with the Council and not with the Generals. I also knew 
that the Prime Minister was strongly in favour of the pro- 
posal, and I remembered that, as stated earher in the chapter 
when referring to the Palestine operations, he had only the 
day before resented my expressing opinions in front of the 
Council that were at variance with his own when^ as in 
this case, I had cdready made them known to him. 

I record these few explanatory details of my share in the 
proceedings so as to amphfy the statement made by the 
Prime Minister in the House of Commons on the 19th of 
February 19 18 when he was describing what had passed at 
the conference. The statement, which I read with some 
surprise, was : 

Everybody was free to express his opiQion, not merely 
ministers but generals. The generals were just as free to express 
their opinions as the ministers, and as a matter of fact Sir Douglas 
Haig did call attention to what we admitted was a weak point 
in the proposal. I think he called attention to two points, and 
we promised to put them right, and some of the time we occupied 
was time occupied in adjusting the arrangements arrived at 
at Versailles to the criticisms of Sir Douglas Haig. They were 
points in regard to the army and the Army Council, and con- 
stitutional points, not points that went to the root of the pro- 
posal itself. I want the House again, at the expense of repeating 
myself, to recollect that this passed the Versailles CouncU without 
a single dissentient voice as far as all those who were present are 
concerned, and as far as I know it was completely accepted by 
every miUtaxy representative present. 



332 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

The decision to set up the Executive Committee was a 
proof that ministers were as strongly opposed to having an 
AQied Commander-in-Chief as they had been at Rapallo ; 
and it must be remembered that, although from a military 
standpoint there was much to be said for a Generalissimo, 
there was, besides the question of unity of policy, a further 
important matter that required attention — namely, the 
placing of troops under a foreign officer having no respon- 
sibility to the parhament of the nation to which they 
belonged. Had there been any outstanding General who 
would satisfy all the countries concerned this objection 
would have counted for much less, but no such General 
was forthcoming. 

There is no reason to suppose, however, that these 
considerations had any bearing upon the decision, which 
may more correctly be attributed to a desire on the 
part of ministers to increase their control over military 
affairs. This desire had been manifest for months past, and 
the new arrangement promised to provide the means for 
achieving it, since ministers may have thought that a com- 
mittee of their own Council would be more amenable to 
their influence than would either a Generalissimo or the 
Chiefs of the General Staff. 

In short, no minister, with the possible exception of 
M. Clemenceau, seemed at this period to have the shghtest 
wish to appoint a Generalissimo ; so far as I know the 
appointment was never discussed by them ; and if it had 
been proposed it would probably have been rejected on the 
plea that there was no General fit to hold the post. Sir 
John French, Generals Joffre and NiveUe, and General 
Cadorna, had all been superseded in the chief command 
of their respective armies ; Sir Douglas Haig had been made 
subordinate to General Nivelle ; and even General Foch 
had been removed from the command of the French armies 
of the north and afterwards employed on less important duty. 
Throughout my time as C.I.G.S., not one of the principal 
military leaders, as far as I could see, was regarded by 
ministers as a sufficiently capable commander to whom the 
supreme command of the Allied armies might confidently be 
entrusted, while on the other hand I can recall more than 



EXECUTIVE COMMITTEES 333 

one instance of their being considered mediocre and in- 
competent. I may add here that, throughout the war, 
there was an undue tendency to assess the capacity of 
senior commanders by results alone, in disregard of the fact 
that in no sphere is accident so active as in war ; that 
Generals, even good ones, are as liable as other people to 
make mistakes ; and that the extent of their success is largely 
governed by the ability and nerves of their subordinates. 

The system of forming committees and councils for the 
purpose of commanding armies in the field is historically 
notorious for giving miserable and mischievous results. The 
Executive Committee was imHkely to prove any less harmful, 
for it had in it two flaws that were particularly dangerous. 
First, the proper handling of the strategical reserves called for 
quick decisions and complete knowledge of the situation, and 
this could not possibly be expected from a body which would 
first have to adjust the conflicting views of the Commanders- 
in-Chief as to the strength and intentions of the enemy, the 
habiUty of the different fronts to attack, and their relative 
importance. Secondly, the Commanders-in-Chief would re- 
ceive orders from two independent sources, their respective 
Chiefs of the General Staff and the committee, and this must 
obviously lead to confusion. The only remedy, and that but 
a partial one, for these defects was that the members of the 
committee should be either the Chiefs of the General Staff 
themselves, or the deputies of those officers, and this was 
realised by Italy, France, and America. 

The Italian army being commanded by the King in 
person, the Italian representative was automatically in the 
position of a deputy. America was represented by her 
Chief of Staff ; while, as just mentioned, General Foch, the 
French Chief of the General Staff, was appointed president 
of the committee. Hence these three countries were 
secured against the dangers attaching to duahty of advice 
and executive command. 

I advised the Secretary of State for War, Lord Derby, 
on my return from Versailles to London, that we ought to 
follow the example of France and America and make the 
C.I.G.S. our representative on the committee ; and that as 
he could not always be at Versailles he should be permanently 



334 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

represented by a deputy to act for him in case of urgency. 
Only by this means could confusion and complication in the 
direction of the operations be prevented. The other military 
members of the Army Council shared this opinion, and 
during the first week of February frequent communications 
on the subject passed between the Council and the War 
Cabinet. 

The matter remained in this position on the 7th of 
February, when I went to Eastbourne for a few days in order 
to shake off the effects of a bad cold. Three days later, 
having heard unofficially that there had been further develop- 
ments, I returned to London and, on the nth, was informed 
by Lord Derby that, during my absence, an arrangement 
as to the procedure to be followed had been come to by him 
and the Prime Minister, to which Sir Douglas Haig, called to 
London, had assented. In a conversation I subsequently 
had with the latter I did not gather that he had given an 
unquaHfied assent, but in any case it was not a matter to 
which his assent need necessarily have been sought. 

The arrangement made was, that while the C.I.G.S. 
should continue to be the supreme mihtary adviser of the 
Government, the military representative at Versailles should 
*' be absolutely free and unfettered " in the advice he gave 
as a member of the Executive Committee ; that he should 
be an Army Councillor (thus enabUng him to issue orders 
to the Commander-in-Chief) ; and that I should be 
succeeded as C.I.G.S. by Sir Henry Wilson, whose place I 
would take on the Executive Committee. (This General 
had, I learnt, been recalled from Versailles to London the 
day after I went to Eastbourne.) 

I was not surprised, nor will the reader be, at the decision 
to remove me from the War Ofi&ce, for, as already shown, 
I had been unable to agree with some of the strategical 
plans the Prime Minister wished to see adopted, and my 
opposition to the Palestine plan a few days before was 
the culminating point of previous refusals to lend my 
authority and name to acts which, I was convinced, were 
unsound and a danger to the Empire. Tliis incident, 
coupled with my warnings as to the consequences likely to 
ensue from the armies on the West Front not being kept 



REMOVED FROM THE WAR OFFICE 335 

up to strength, doubtless decided the Prime Minister to 
try another C.I.G.S. whose strategical views might be more 
in conformity with his own, and who could devise a way 
of winning the war without the additional men for whom 
I had asked. Further, Lord Derby had already told me 
in the course of conversation that the Prime Minister could 
not " get on " with me. After that there was nothing more 
to be said, and I said nothing except to ask when it was 
desired that I should hand over my duties to my successor 

The question of taking up the new post at Versailles 
was on a different plane. On the principle that a soldier 
should obey orders, put personal considerations aside, and 
do the best for his country wherever he may be sent, my 
first impulse was to accept the post, but after careful 
reflection I resolved that I could be no party to a system 
which established a dual authority for the military direction 
of the war. Having made up my mind, I told Lord Derby 
that, whilst anxious to do everything in my power to serve 
His Majesty's Government and to help to retrieve the 
situation in which the country was placed, I felt that to 
undertake a duty on the pretence of giving assistance 
when convinced that I could not possibly give it would be 
of no benefit to ministers and would bring disgrace upon 
myself. 

In the conversations which took place during the next 
two days Lord Derby stated that he was most desirous 
and always had been that I should remain C.I.G.S., and 
he suggested a procedure which would allow me to remain, 
and at the same time would satisfactorily adjust the 
relations between myself and our representative on the 
Executive Committee. This procedure I was able to accept 
as it stood, but when he referred it to the War Cabinet for 
approval the only result was that, whilst my continuance 
as C.I.G.S. was not disapproved, the original arrangement 
as to the status of our representative at Versailles remained 
unaltered. This being the only point in dispute, the pro- 
posed modus operandi came to nothing. 

The following day, the 14th, I personally stated the 
whole case afresh to the War Cabinet. This also came to 
nothing, and the post of C.I.G.S. was then offered to Sir 



336 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Herbert Plumer, notwithstanding that Sir Henry Wilson 
had been nominated a week earher. On the i6th, Sir 
Herbert Plumer having the day before declined the offer (a 
fact of which I had not been informed), the Prime Minister 
personally asked me to acquiesce in the original arrangement. 
I took an hour to think the matter over once again, and 
then sent him a written reply to the effect that I could not 
go back on what I had already said. 

The same evening the Press Bureau issued a notice that 
the Government had accepted my resignation as C.I.G.S. 
Strictly speaking, this was not correct. I had not resigned 
for I was not in a position to do so, having been told on 
the nth that I was to leave the War Of&ce. 

I must apologise to the reader for describing in such 
detail this particular phase of my mihtary Hfe, for it can 
be of little interest to any one except myself. My excuse 
is that the circumstances were not fully represented to the 
general pubHc at the time, and I wish to prove to those 
whose good opinion I value that there was no ground for the 
report circulated that I was opposed to making a change in 
the system of command. On the contrary, I submitted 
proposals for such a change, while, as already explained, 
the appointment of a Generalissimo — made later under 
stress of the German attack — was not yet in the picture as 
a practical proposition, either in the person of General 
Foch or of any other General. My opposition referred 
solely to the manner in which the system adopted by the 
Supreme War Council was to be carried out, and the pro- 
cedure I suggested was the same as that put into practice 
by France and America. 

I certainly had no faith in the system, as I was con- 
vinced that effective mihtary command could not be exer- 
cised by a body working as a " committee " of a " council,** 
but, wishing to make the best of it, I was anxious that 
its dangers should not be aggravated by our having, 
unUke the other Powers, a representative who would be 
independent of his General Staff. This was the only point 
at issue, and is a sufficient answer to the statement that 
I had adopted an intolerable attitude in refusing either to 
go to Versailles or to remain in London as C.I.G.S. Whether 



END OF THE " EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE " 337 

I stayed in London or went to Versailles could make no 
difference to the pernicious arrangement which created two 
separate military advisers and executive officers. Moreover, 
it was plain from what had recently passed that, wherever 
I might be, my advice would not be accepted unless it 
happened to be of the desired kind, and if that were so the 
period of my usefulness had evidently come to an end. 

Had I seen a practicable and honourable way of 
filling either post I should certainly have taken it, for 
I naturally did not wish to forfeit the opportimity of 
finishing the war as C.I.G.S., or in some other responsible 
position, while by decUning both posts I might find 
myself out of active emplo5anent altogether, and would 
thereby inflict hardship upon my family by the financial 
loss incurred. Seeing no such way I determined to do what 
any average Britisher in my place would have done — act 
according to my convictions be the consequences what they 
might. 

Elsewhere I have stated that, as a result of the enemy's 
last bid for supremacy in the spring of 1918, British re- 
inforcements were hurriedly despatched to the West Front 
from the eastern theatres, divisions and brigades thus turning 
up of whose existence the troops in France had never before 
heard ; that the scope of the Military Service Act of 1916 
was enlarged so as to produce more recruits ; and that 
much more shipping was provided for the transport of the 
American armies. In order to complete the story, and in 
justice to the British armies on the West Front, I should 
add that while these belated measures were being carried 
out, the critical situation crea^ted by the omission to take 
them earher was saved, as often before in our history, only 
by the courage and tenacity of the regimental officers and 
men, who, fighting steadfastly on till help arrived, helped 
to convert into complete victory the greatest defeat the 
British army has ever suffered. 

As to the " Executive Committee," it broke down, as an 
organ of command, within a few weeks of its constitution. 
Early in March Sir Douglas Haig reported that he was 
imable to furnish the troops which the committee desired 
to have under its orders as part of the strategical reserve, 

z 



338 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

and thereupon its functions of command ended, though it 
nominally remained in existence till the month of May. 

On the i8th of February I left the War Office for the 
fourth and last time, having first telegraphed my thanks 
to Monro and the other Commanders - in - Chief for the 
readiness with which they had always met my wishes and 
helped to make the military machine run easily. 

My deaUngs with the Prime Ministers and other ministers 
of the Overseas Dominions who visited England from time 
to time, and with the High Commissioners and General 
Officers of the Overseas Forces, were equally happy, and I 
was greatly indebted to these gentlemen for the whole- 
hearted manner in which they co-operated with the Imperial 
General Staff, so far as the conditions of their respective 
countries would permit. It had been thought before 19 14 
that the Dominions ought specifically to state what number 
of troops they would contribute in the event of a great 
war, and within what period of time these troops would be 
forthcoming, so that definite plans could be prepared. To 
the best of my recollection no such statement was made, 
and we could not expect that it would be, for so long as 
there is no Imperial body charged with the control of 
Imperial poUcy there can be no complete co-ordination of 
the Imperial Forces. 

I think I may say that the relations between the General 
Staff and the administrative staffs and services of the War 
Office were also mutually helpful, including the oft-abused 
Finance Branch, of which the head was Mr. (now Lord) 
Forster, his principal assistant being Sir Charles Harris. I 
would wish it to be understood that the reason I have 
omitted to mention more fully the work of the adminis- 
trative officers is only because they were not under my 
orders, and not because I do not recognise that all General 
Staff plans must ultimately depend for success upon the 
assistance of these officers. I reUed in a special measure 
upon the advice of Sir Sam Fay and Sir Guy Granet, of the 
Great Central and Midland Railways respectively, who placed 
their services at the disposal of the War Office during the 
war. They were in charge of the arrangements for the 
conveyance by rail, river, and sea of all men, supplies, 



LORD PIRRIE 339 

stores, etc., for all theatres, and to them is due a share of 
the credit for the improvement of the Tigris line of com- 
munication from Basra to Baghdad, and for the provision 
of an efficient railway service from Egypt through the Sinai 
Peninsula to Palestine. 

As regards the officers of the General Staff itself, all 
I need say is that, without exception, they had given me 
loyal and able assistance during the arduous times of the 
two preceding years. Lucas had been, as always, a devoted 
comrade, displaying ability and initiative much above 
the ordinary, and having but one object in fife — to serve 
me to the utmost of his power. I can never adequately 
repay him. He and my civilian private secretary, Brooke, 
another faithful helper, had often kept me straight on 
matters of a personal nature — or had tried to do so — and 
saved me from numerous worries about which I was some- 
times never even allowed to hear, 

I must also acknowledge the generosity shown by many 
people outside the War Office, who, in their desire to lighten 
my cares, invited me to spend Sunday at their country 
houses. I always had far more of these invitations than I 
could possibly accept, often from people whom I had not 
before known, but occasionally I was able to take advan- 
tage of them, coming back to work on the Sunday evening 
greatly refreshed in mind and body. This form of hos- 
pitality was many times accorded to me at Witley Park, 
the country residence of Lord and Lady Pirrie, and thirty- 
five miles from London. 

When I first made the acquaintance of Lord Pirrie, in 
1916, he flattered me by saying that a few years before he 
had been interested in reading a farewell address I gave to 
a party of officers when they were leaving the Staff College. 
My remarks referred, amongst other things, to the relations 
which ought to exist between superiors and subordinates 
and vice versa, the importance of sound administration, 
and other matters of a like nature. Apparently he felt 
that the principles which I had impressed upon my 
officers were equally appHcable to his own army of 
workers, and he accordingly brought them to the notice of 
his staff. 



340 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Lord Pirrie's achievements in the shipbuilding industry 
are a striking example of what can be accomplished by a 
man who takes the long view, has the courage to act upon 
it, and realises the value of good organisation. It is a matter 
of regret, I have always thought, that his unique experience 
was not utilised and his advice sought at a much earlier 
period of the war than they were. If they had been, many 
matters connected with the building and repairing of ships 
might not have got into the unsatisfactory condition they 
were in when, in 1918, he was asked to remedy them as 
Controller- General of Merchant Shipbuilding. 

I was also fortunate while at the War Office in regard 
to a residence in London. Early in the summer of 1916 
Sir George and Lady Fowke gave me the use of their 
house in South Street, and in November of that year the 
King graciously placed York House, St. James's Palace, 
at my disposal for the duration ^of the war, a privilege 
which added greatly to my personal convenience. Although 
I ceased to be C.I.G.S. nine months before the war ended. 
His Majesty allowed me to remain at York House until 
February 19 19, when it was put into the hands of the 
decorators preparatory to becoming the residence of the 
Prince of Wales. 

I enjoyed, too, the hospitality of the Naval and Military, 
Cavalry, Bath, Savage, and Ranelagh clubs in London, and 
the New Club at Brighton, of which I was made an honorary 
member in each case, and I was admitted, honoris causa, 
into the " Worshipful Guild and Fraternity " of the Cloth- 
workers Company of the City of London. 

In a multitude of different ways I discovered whilst 
C.I.G.S. that there were far more generous-minded and 
appreciative people in the world than I had supposed, and 
I had further proofs of this when it was announced that I 
had left the War Office. A member of the House of Lords, 
then unknown to me except by name, sent a pencilled note 
from his sick-bed in London asking me to take my family 
to his house in the country and stay there as long as I 
wished. Another and highly valued friend, who must also be 
nameless, offered a cheque with which to provide myself 
with a home in place of York House, which he thought 



FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN 341 

I would at once be required to vacate. Letters arrived 
daily by the score from persons of all classes, and although 
they referred to my past services in much too flattering 
terms, the sincerity of motive which had prompted them 
was unquestionable, and I was gratified as well as surprised 
to find that I had won the esteem of so many of my fellow- 
countrymen. 

These observations should perhaps be quahfied in the 
case of one of the letters, which afforded me so much amuse- 
ment as to deserve special mention. The writer, a man I 
had not met for nearly thirty years, after deploring the loss 
my departure from the War Office would be to the State, 
went on to ask for the temporary loan of four pounds ! 
Why he did not ask for the round sum of five pounds I have 
never been able to understand, for his chances of receiving 
the loan could hardly be affected by so small a matter as 
an extra sovereign. 



CHAPTER XVII 

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, GREAT BRITAIN 

Appointed Commander-in-Chief of Eastern Command — Excessive number 
of men retained in United Kingdom — Reorganisation of the Eastern 
Command Staff — Become Commander-in-Chief, Great Britain — 
Reorganisation of Headquarters Staff — Organisation of commands 
Inspections — Good work of hospitals — Defence schemes — Anti- 
aircraft defences — Air warfare of the future — Science should be 
given a more prominent place in our war preparations — Visits to 
the Grand Fleet — Co-operation of American Navy — Admiral Sims — 
Discontent on demobilisation — Industrial unrest — Chairman of Com- 
mittee on Officers' Pay — King reviews young soldier battaUons in 
Hyde Park — Appointed to command the British Army of the 
Rhine. 

On ceasing to be C.I.G.S. I was offered and accepted the 
Eastern Command, which includes that part of England 
lying roughly between the south-east coast and a Hne 
drawn from the Wash to Chichester, but is exclusive of 
Aldershot and London, both of which constitute separate 
commands. I took up my new post, which was much 
inferior in status to the one I had previously held, on the 
19th of February. 

About ten days later I went to Lincoln as the guest of 
Sir WilUam Tritton, one of the pioneers in the production 
of the tank. During my two days' stay I visited the works 
of Messrs. Foster & Company, of which my host was the 
executive head ; opened a club which had been estabhshed 
for the employees at Bracebridge, just outside the town ; 
and was shown round the works of Messrs. Rust on & 
Proctor. The programme also included a civic welcome, 
the Mayor and Corporation meeting me on the boundary of 
the city, whence I was conducted to the famous old Guildhall 
to receive an address. 

There were at the beginning of 19 18 nearly a million 

342 



C.-IN-C. EASTERN COMMAND 343 

and a half of men in the United Kingdom borne on the 
strength of the army, of whom about half a milHon were 
in the Eastern Command, and it was frequently asked why 
the number should be so great. It certainly was much 
greater than it ought to have been, and as C.I.G.S. I had 
many times endeavoured, though without much success, to 
get it reduced. The responsibility for reducing it rested 
with the Army Council as a whole and not with the General 
Staff, as each department of the War Office retained men at 
home on services connected with its own special duties, 
and the General Staff could do nothing except try to 
bring about a reduction so as to set free more men for the 
battle-tronts. 

Of the million and a half men some 80,000 were in 
the Fl5dng Corps, which was supervised by an Army 
CoimciUor and had not yet become a separate service ; close 
upon 50,000 belonged to the army medical corps, under 
the Adjutant-General ; some 90,000 belonged to the army 
service corps, under the Quartermaster-General ; others to 
the army ordnance corps and army pay corps ; others 
again to the labour corps, of whom there were nearly 
200,000 ; some 46,000 were borne on the strength of the 
army who were not employed on army work but under the 
Ministry of Munitions, in agriculture, or in dock and trans- 
port work ; ajid finally, the number of sick and wounded 
at home usually amounted to some 300,000 or 400,000 men. 
After making these and many other deductions, less than 
one-third of the million and a half remained over as potential 
drafts for the armies abroad, and the majority of these were 
not sufficiently trained, or were not old enough, to go to 
the front. 

I mention these facts because it was commonly supposed 
that the enormous numbers retained at home were for home 
defence, whereas the men earmarked for that purpose 
were sometimes only about one-tenth of the whole, and 
these, as explained in the previous chapter, were largely 
composed of youths under nineteen years of age and there- 
fore were not ehgible to be sent abroad. In consequence of 
the situation created by the German offensive in March the 
long-delayed reduction in the strength of the troops at home 



344 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

was made, though unfortunately it was largely effected at 
the expense of sending out boys under nineteen years of age. 

As priority of treatment had to be given to the armies 
abroad, it followed that the troops at home were in a con- 
stant state of change, and that the majority of the officers 
and non-commissioned officers were unfit for active service 
either on account of health, age, or professional capacity. 
Some of the officers had been sent home on grounds of 
inefficiency, and others had not been adlowed to go to the 
front because they had had no experience there — a defect 
for which they obviously were not answerable. Officers 
such as these could not well avoid a sense of disappointment, 
but they loyally stuck to their monotonous work of pre- 
paring men for the front, where they themselves were 
considered to have failed or were not permitted to go. 

I had a large staff at my headquarters in Pall Mali, 
which, according to peace custom, was divided into two 
branches — General Staff and Administrative Staff. This 
system, set up on the recommendation of the Esher Com- 
mittee in 1904, works fairly well in peace time, but in time 
of war it is not the one used in the jQeld, and it did not work 
well at home as regards the administrative side. The 
amount of work to be done was far too great for any one 
officer to supervise, and it was also much mixed up with 
questions connected with home defence, and therefore 
instead of retaining a " Major-General in Charge of Adminis- 
tration,'' it would have been better to follow the method 
which obtained at the front and divide the duties between 
two branches. 

With the approval of the War Office I introduced this 
system, the two branches being respectively placed imder 
a Deputy Adjutant-General and a Deputy Quartermaster- 
General, who relieved the Major-General in Charge of 
Administration of the mass of detail with which he had 
previously tried to cope. Major-General Sir F. Robb held 
this appointment, and as he had exceptional knowledge 
of aU administrative duties I could safely leave them in his 
hands. I was thus enabled to give, as I did, most of my 
time to visiting the troops, observing the conditions under 
which they were trained, and investigating the arrangements 



IC- 




n 

.* 



C.-IN-C. GREAT BRITAIN 345 

for home defence, more especially those at the three im- 
portant ports of Harwich, London, and Dover. By the end 
of May I had visited at least once every station and camp 
in the command. 

On the 3rd of June, Lord French having been appointed 
Viceroy of Ireland, I was given command of the whole of 
the forces in Great Britain, with headquarters at the Horse 
Guards. Lord French had commanded the troops in 
Ireland as well as those in Great Britain, but it was decided 
that in future the Irish Command should be directly under 
the War Office. 

The Chief of my General Staff was Major-General Romer, 
who had served under me at the War Ofiice before the 
war. Adjutant-General and Quartermaster-General duties 
were under one officer, Major-General Sir H. Tagart. In this 
case again I felt it necessary to divide the duties into two 
branches under a Deputy Adjutant-General and Deputy 
Quartermaster-General, these posts eventually being held 
by Brigadier -General Lucas (my old aide-de-camp) and 
Brigadier-General Jones of the army service corps. 

Besides the officers of these three branches, I had a 
number of Inspectors of the different arms and services 
whose duty it was to visit the troops at training, and to 
keep me informed of the progress made and the difficulties 
encountered. 

My personal staff consisted of Lieutenant - Colonel 
Eddowes, private secretary, and Captains Peek, Bovey, and 
De Burgh, as aides-de-camp. Peek and Bovey had both been 
with me in the same capacity in the Eastern Command. 
Colonel Stanley Barry was mihtary secretary. 

The Generals in charge of the various commands were : 
Fielding, London ; Murray, Aldershot ; Woollcombe, 
Eastern ; Sclater, Southern ; Maxwell, Northern ; Snow, 
Western ; McCracken, Scotland ; Pulteney, the XXIst 
Army Corps — an independent formation of three divisions 
composed almost entirely of youths under nineteen years 
of age ; and Dallas, the Kent Force — largely composed of 
cyclists. These Generals gave me excellent assistance and 
made my task quite easy 

Being well informed as to the Eastern Command, I 



346 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

commenced a series of inspections of the other five commands, 
and during the next six months visited in turn nearly every 
military station in them from Cromarty in the north to 
Plymouth in the south. 

For long journeys the railway companies usually 
provided a special saloon for myself and staff, which was 
a great convenience as it enabled us to do a certain amount 
of work en route. On going to Aberdeen on one occasion 
we discovered on arrival that the doors of the saloon on the 
platform side had been locked before we left London so 
as to prevent people at the stopping stations from entering 
during the night, and by some mistake the key, a special 
one, had not been given to the guard. It was at first 
proposed that we should get out by the window, and then 
it occurred to us to try the doors on the other side. These 
were found to be unlocked, and having descended on that 
side I chmbed on to the platform at the dead end of the 
Hue, thus presenting myself in a very undignified manner 
to the Lord Provost and other high of&cials who had come 
to the station to receive me. 

When making these tours of inspection I endeavoured to 
visit as many of the mihtary hospitals as my other duties 
would permit, and it is a pleasure to record that the officers 
and men whom I questioned spoke in the highest terms of 
the way in which they were treated. 

This is not the place to refer to the services rendered, 
at home as in the field, by the regular officers and nursing 
service of the army medical corps, nor is it necessary to 
do so, but in regard to the V.A.D. estabhshments it may 
be said that of all the good work done during the war by 
the women of Great Britain none surpassed the devoted 
service of those engaged in the care of the sick and wounded. 
The greater credit is due to them because in not a few cases 
the value and amount of their work were not known to, or 
appreciated by, the pubhc in general. Hospitals and 
convalescent homes sprang up all over the country, and 
as some of them were in rather out-of-the-way places they 
were seldom if ever visited by any one except the inspecting 
medical authorities. One could but feel unbounded admira- 
tion for the way in which the staff silently worked on, month 



HOSPITAL STAFFS 347 

after month and year after year, content with the knowledge 
that they were doing their best to alleviate the sufferings of 
those under their charge. 

I remember in the South African war stories being 
current that some of the non-professional nurses who found 
their way out to that coimtry were held in absolute terror, 
either because they were ignorant of their duties, or because 
they thought that these duties consisted in talking to their 
patients or otherwise forcing their attention upon them at 
a time when what they most needed was to be left alone 
in peace. *' Too ill to be nursed,'* was said to have been 
written on a card and placed on his bed by one man who 
suffered from these amateurs. In the Great War the 
amateur element was absent, so far as my experience goes. 
The hospitals were models of cleanliness, comfort, and 
efficiency, and it was recognised in a way unknown before 
that the healing of the body is best expedited by keeping 
the mind cheerful and contented. All honour to the women 
who came forward to do this important work, and, what 
is more, stuck to it regularly and systematically. 

The country is also indebted to those civil practitioners, 
surgical and medical, who gave their services free and to 
whose unremitting care and attention it was due that 
many a poor fellow was restored to health whose condi- 
tion at first seemed hopeless. Amongst those so employed 
was my friend Sir Peter Freyer. He was Consulting 
Surgeon in the Eastern Command throughout the war, and 
travelled hundreds of miles every week in visiting the 
hospitals within his area. In 1918, when food was strictly 
rationed, I suggested that as he was doing army work he 
should apply to be issued with army rations, which were 
on a more liberal scale than the amount allowed by the 
regulations of the Food Controller. He applied, and the 
answer he received was that as he was not in receipt of 
army pay for the army work he was doing he could not be 
supplied with army rations ! 

The arrangements for home defence, on land, had been 
greatly improved under the direction of Lord French. There 
was, for reasons that need not be described, little probabihty 
that they would ever be put into execution, but as there 



348 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

could be no certainty about what the enemy might try U 
do, it was only a reasonable precaution to ensure that th( 
troops should be capable of turning out quickly, and tha' 
every officer and man should be acquainted with his dutiei 
in case of emergency. With this object in view I occasionall] 
issued instructions, without previous warning of my intention 
which put the coast defence schemes into force. The test! 
brought to Hght many defects, and caused aU ranks to take i 
greater interest in this part of their work. 

It can be understood that the practical execution of the 
schemes involved considerable interference with the tele- 
graph, telephone, and railway systems ; entailed, in some 
cases, in accordance with arrangements made with the civi 
authorities, the evacuation of the inhabitants, cattle, trans- 
port, etc., from the locahty threatened ; and in many way* 
disturbed the everyday life of the country. Rather elaborate 
measures had therefore to be taken when testing the schemes 
so as not to lead the whole community to beheve that a 
hostile landing was, in fact, taking place. Otherwise there 
would have been unnecessary dislocation of business, to saj 
nothing of the alarm that might have occurred. 

I usually issued the order for the tests late at night oi 
early in the morning, according to the conditions affecting 
the scheme, and I discovered after the first few tests thai 
garrisons were very much on the qui vive if I was known O] 
suspected to be in the neighbourhood. It was difficult tc 
prevent my presence becoming known, as certain prehminarj 
arrangements had to be made, and I had to be accompaniec 
by several staff officers. Consequently I was not alway; 
able to bring off my intended surprise — without which the 
test naturally lost something of its value — but on one 
occasion at least I may claim to have scored, though in i 
somewhat different manner. 

I was visiting a large garrison on the east coast, and sc 
determined were the staff and commanding officers not te 
be caught napping that they remained at their posts fo: 
two consecutive nights, waiting for the arrival of the 
appointed code-word which put their scheme into force 
But it never came, and while these officers carried out thei: 
weary vigil my staff and I slept peacefully in our beds 



AIR DEFENCES 349 

Even when I left on the evening of the third day they 
seemed to doubt, from what they said to my staff, whether 
I was really going away or intended to double back on my 
tracks at a later hour. The incident provided us with much 
mutual amusement, and it may have taught the officers 
something more about the details of their defence scheme 
than they had hitherto known. 

The anti-aircraft defences were, when I took over the 
command in Great Britain, probably the best of their kind 
in the world so far as London was concerned, and I imagine 
that the Germans reaUsed how perfect they were, for no 
further attacks were made during the war. Owing to the 
initial lack of means this result had taken nearly four years 
to achieve, and in the meantime London had been subjected 
to many raids. The loss of hfe and damage to property 
were, however resolutely accepted, and instead of causing 
panic and despair they made the people more determined 
than ever to see the war through to a finish. Thus, again, 
had the enemy mistaken the psychology of his opponent. 

As C.LG.S. I had for long endeavoured to supply Lord 
French with the resources he needed, but as the output of 
aeroplanes was never equad to requirements imtil 191 8, if 
then, it was impossible to give him what he wanted without 
starving the armies on the West Front. That they should 
be so starved was what the enemy most desired — hence the 
raids — for without a proper complement of aeroplanes to 
assist them the armies would have been at a hopeless 
disadvantage. The same remarks apply, though to a less 
extent, to the other fronts on which we were fighting, and 
from all of them requests to be suppUed with more aircraft 
were constantly being received. 

Again, anti-aircraft guns, of the really useful type, were 
required in large munbers by the navy and for arming 
merchant vessels against submarine attacks, while search- 
fights and other equipment for the defences were also 
deficient. In these circumstances it was not feasible to 
satisfy every need, and home defence had, as a rule, neces- 
sarily to take second place. 

For reasons that can be understood, I shall not describe 
the air defences in detail. They were under the command 



350 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

of Major-General Ashmore, assisted by a very capable and 
hard-working body of officers and men, a due proportion 
of whom were always on duty throughout the twenty-four 
hours. The first requisite was to ensure that immediate 
notice of an impending raid should be received by all 
concerned, as the time taken by the hostile machines to 
reach London from, say, the mouth of the Thames, was 
only just sufficient to allow of our own machines cHmbing 
up from the ground to an altitude equal to that at which 
the enemy was probably flying. A sharp look-out on the 
coast and rapid methods of transmitting information were 
therefore of the first importance. In both cases the arrange- 
ments were about as perfect as they could be made. 

It was supposed by most people that the one and only 
object of the anti-aircraft guns was to bring down the 
enemy's machines, but this was only one of two. The other, 
almost equally important, was that the guns should compel 
the enemy to fly at a great elevation in order to be safe 
against their fire. In this way they reduced his chances 
of bombing his objectives, and restricted him to a smaller 
aerial space in which our own aeroplanes, assisted by search- 
Hghts at night, would have to look for him. Aprons, formed 
of long strands of wire and suspended between captive 
balloons, helped to serve the same purpose of keeping the 
enemy well up in the air and to Hmit his available hues of 
approach. Once a baUoon unf ortimately broke loose when two 
men were working on it. One poor fellow dropped when at a 
great height ; the other was never seen again, or the balloon. 

On the fighting fronts the aeroplane has proved itself to 
be indispensable in collecting information, directing artillery 
fire, bombing the enemy's depots, railways, camps, etc., but 
perhaps its most important feature, and the one with the 
greatest future, is that it permits of the war being carried 
into the enemy's country, irrespective of the situation on 
land and sea. The ostensible object of raids of this kind may 
be to inffict damage upon naval bases, supply depots, and 
other military establishments, but non-military places will 
also suffer, for although raids upon them may theoretically 
be classed as unjustifiable, the limits of what is permissible 
and what is not are very elastic in these days. 



AIR-ATTACK 351 

Modern war being largely a matter of war against 
economic life, it has turned more and more towards the 
enemy's home coimtry, and the old principle of making war 
only against armies and navies has been consigned to the 
background. Raids on non-military places and people may 
be regarded as barbaric, and they may, by exasperating 
the inhabitants, have the opposite effect to that intended 
— the breaking down of the country's morale — but they 
are bound to play a prominent part in the next contest, 
and on a far more extensive scale than in the Great War. 
A new weapon, such as the aeroplane or submarine, will 
always open up new paths for itself, and in the case of the 
aeroplane the path can be followed within a few minutes of 
the declaration of war — if not before. 

I make these observations about future aerial warfare 
because in the Great War we had no good defences against 
air-attack with the exception of London and its immediate 
vicinity. In the next war the enemy's radius of action will 
doubtless be much increased, as well as the number and 
destructive power of his aeroplanes, and, in the air as on land 
and sea, our best form of defence will he in the abihty to attack. 

In this respect as in some others we need to take greater 
advantage of the assistance that can be afforded by science 
than we have hitherto done. In the Great War valuable 
methods of submarine warfare were quickly discovered ; 
sound-rangers were invented by means of which a particular 
sound, such as the discharge of a gun, could be located at 
great distances and even in the din of battle, and upon it our 
own guns could be laid ; the tank was produced in large 
numbers and proved itself to be an indispensable weapon in 
trench warfare ; means of defence against gas were provided 
in a few weeks, and of offence in a few months ; while the 
surgical and medical arrangements for the sick and wounded 
surpassed anything before seen. All this was mainly due to 
science, which, conspicuously absent in our pre-war prepara- 
tions, had hurriedly to be called in at a time of stress. It is 
to be hoped that not only in the fighting services but in every 
State department, in peace and in war, science will in future 
be definitely given a place consistent with its great import- 
ance to the national welfare. 



352 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

In 1917 and again in 1918 I was invited by Admiral 
Beatty to visit the Grand Fleet in the Firth of Forth, and 
the spectacle it presented, strengthened by the fine business- 
hke looking ships of our American Allies, caused me to 
understand why the enemy refrained from repeating his 
Jutland effort. 

From conversations I had with the Admiral the arrange- 
ments for home defence as between the navy and army 
did not appear to be as good as they ought to have been, 
and for this I myself was not blameless. With regard to 
purely naval operations, I found that control, over the naval 
forces employed off the coasts of Great Britain was much 
more centralised at the Admiralty than was the control 
over the land forces exercised by the War Office. At first 
it seemed to me to be overdone, notwithstanding that the 
sea is all one, but as the sailors may be presumed to know 
their own business best I shall not dare to criticise them. 
There is of course much difference in the characteristics of 
the two services, their field of operations, and the means 
of acquiring and distributing intelligence of the enemy's 
movements, and the same system of command may not 
therefore be practicable for both. 

In visiting other Scottish ports I saw something more 
of the work being done in the North Sea by the Americans 
in combination with our own sailors, and, as is well known, 
they also co-operated effectively with us in the Atlantic. 
One of the most pleasing features of the war was the 
excellent relations which existed between the soldiers and 
sailors of the two great Enghsh-speaking nations, and in 
securing this result Admiral Sims took a place second 
to none. He is a t5rpical naval officer, downright in 
the expression of his opinions, and was actuated only by 
the desire to do his best for the common good. We 
frequently met when I was C.I.G.S., and in our journeys 
together between London and Paris when attending AUied 
conferences he would sometimes show that besides being 
a fine sailor he was also an accomplished raconteur, his 
racy stories helping to while away many a tedious hour, and 
to give a more cheery aspect to what, at the moment, might 
be rather a dreary outlook. 



DEMOBILISATION 353 

At the beginning of 1919 there was much discontent 
amongst the troops at the manner in which demobilisation 
was being carried out. Regulations on the subject had 
been carefully prepared by the War Office before the Armis- 
tice, and presumably in consultation with the other State 
departments concerned ; but when put into force they were 
subjected to many modifications, while it was impossible 
in some cases to decide into which category men fell for 
demobilisation owing to the vague and complicated con- 
ditions under which they had entered the army. Moreover, 
the men had been led to beheve at the general election 
in the previous December that demobihsation would be im- 
mediate and rapid|; they knew that employment was being 
snapped up by others Who had already been demobihsed 
or who had escaped mihtary service altogether ; and for 
many reasons they were more anxious to return to civil hfe 
than to continue mihtary training at home. 

To make matters worse, demobilisation was not dealt 
with solely by one department in the War Office, for although 
the Adjutant-General was responsible for the greater part 
of it a considerable amount of personnel was demobihsed 
under the instructions of the Quartermaster-General, with 
the result sometimes that men who had joined the army 
under similar conditions found that they were not treated 
similarly in regard to demobihsation. Of two such men 
one would be demobilised under instructions issued by the 
Adjutant-General, while the other, employed in the admin- 
istrative services under the Quartermaster-General, might 
find himself retained. 

The state of affairs was becoming extremely unsatis- 
factory, both as to the feeling of the troops and the main- 
tenance of sufficient forces to meet our habiHties, when 
Mr. Churchill became Secretary of State for War in February 
1919. Within a few days of taking office he issued instruc- 
tions which put matters on a proper footing. Demobilisa- 
tion regulations were made clearer, the men were definitely 
informed as to when they were likely to be demobihsed, and 
those who had to be retained were given the increase of 
pay and other privileges to which they were in the circum- 
stances entitled. 

2A 



354 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

There was about this period also much industrial unrest. 
This was only to be expected, seeing the wholesale disloca- 
tion caused by the war, and at the departmental meetings 
which I attended in Whitehall, when actual or threatened 
strikes were being discussed, it was evident that there was 
something to be said on the side of the men as well as 
on that of the employers. Troops were frequently held in 
readiness to assist the civil authorities, but only at one 
place — Glasgow — ^was any considerable number used, and 
fortunately order was quickly restored. 

Whilst at the Horse Guards I was inundated with re- 
quests to take part in various pubhc ceremonies, but 
besides my distaste for making speeches in public — especi- 
ally when there is nothing useful to be said — I had more 
than enough to do to get through my military duties. 
My rule was, therefore, to decline all such requests except 
when it seemed really necessary to comply with them. 
One of these exceptions was when I went to Worcester 
in January 1919 to lay the foundation stone of the first 
block of buildings to be erected in " Gheluvelt " park as 
Homes for the sailors and soldiers of the county who had 
become disabled in the Great War. (The park was given 
the name of " Gheluvelt " because of the distinction gained 
at that place by the Worcestershire Regiment in 1914.) 
Curiously enough I remembered only the day before the 
ceremony, while the guest of Lord Beauchamp at Madresfield 
Court, that it was at Worcester that I had enhsted some 
forty-two years earher, and the announcement of this fact 
in a speech I made at a public luncheon at the Guildhall 
came as a great surprise to all present, and lent an added 
interest to the address of welcome with which the Corpora- 
tion had presented me in the morning. 

As a preliminary to the revision of the rates of ofacers' 
pay the Army Council appointed a committee at the end 
of 19 1 8, of which I was nominated chairman, to report on 
the necessary expenses of life in the army. We went care- 
fully into the matter, obtaining much evidence from officers 
well qualified to give it, and had no difficulty in showing 
that, while most officers were receiving, with the exception 
of certain temporary increases, much the same pay as fifty 



RATES OF PAY 355 

or more years ago, the cost of living had gone up a hundred 
per cent. In order to effect a reasonable adjustment we 
recommended amongst other things that married officers of 
the age of thirty and over should be treated as such by the 
State, and be given corresponding privileges in respect of 
rations, quarters, and traveUing ; that all officers, married 
or not, should be treated more liberally, in money or in 
kind, in the way of " allowances " for fuel, light, and 
quarters, the system to be made sufficiently elastic to ensure 
fair compensation being given for the cost incurred, no 
matter where the officer might be stationed ; that the 
amount of uniform should be reduced to the minimum, 
steps taken to cheapen the cost, and the initial outfit to be 
paid for by the State ; and that all questions of officers' 
emoluments should be decided on the basic principle that 
the more senior regimental officers should have secured to 
them such remuneration as would be an adequate return 
for their length of service and the responsible duties they 
have to perform, and as would enable them to maintain 
and educate their famiUes in a manner consistent with their 
station of life. The committee had the satisfaction — ^not 
the usual experience of committees — of seeing many of their 
recommendations adopted in the revised scale of pay and 
allowances issued the following July, though there were 
some not unimportant omissions. 

On the 1st March the King held a review in Hyde Park 
of several Young Soldier Battahons, brought in from stations 
outside London, which had been ordered to join the Army 
of the Rhine in replacement of the battalions sent there 
from the West Front when the Rhine territories were first 
occupied by the AUies in the previous December. Un- 
fortunately greatcoats had to be worn as the weather was 
not very fine, and this rather spoilt the effect of the parade, 
but the battahons nevertheless presented a good appearance, 
considering that practically all the personnel were under 
nineteen years of age. After the parade the King was good 
enough to express his appreciation in the following letter : 

It gave me much pleasure to inspect in Hyde Park to-day 
the battalions about to proceed overseas to join the Army of the 
Rhine. 



356 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

The steadiness on parade and general soldierly appearance of 
aU ranks was most satisfactory, and reflects great credit alike 
upon the men themselves and upon those responsible for their 
instruction. 

Since 1916, when separate battalions were first formed at 
home for the reception and training of recruits of 18 years of age, 
many thousands of youner men have passed throuerh them, and 
have earned high praise from their officers and non commissioned 
officers for their keenness to learn and their consistent good 
behaviour. 

Commanders at the front have also told me of their intelli- 
gence, courage, and devotion to duty in the field. 

I am confident that this high reputation will be jealously 
guarded and maintained by the 14 battalions inspected to-day, 
also by those other battalions which are proceeding to the 
Rhine, and which I much regret to be unable to see before their 
departure. 

George R.L 

1st March 1919. 

A few days after this parade Mr. Churchill offered me the 
command of the British army of the Rhine, adding that in 
view of the services I had rendered in winning the war it 
was appropriate that I should command the troops employed 
in enforcing compliance with the terms of peace. I did not 
suppose that the appointment would be of long duration, 
but I was nevertheless glad to accept the offer. On the 
14th April I handed over command of the forces in Great 
Britain to Sir Douglas Haig and left the Horse Guards, 
where, for about eleven months, I had occupied the same 
room and sat at the same table as used by many previous 
Commanders-in-Chief, including the Duke of Wellington. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, BRITISH ARMY OF THE RHINE 

Composition of Headquarters Staff — Distribution of Allied troops — The 
British zone — The Military Governor — Administration of the 
occupied territory — Meaning of martial law — Policy as to in- 
dustrial questions — Strength of Army — Its reorganisation — 
Preparations for the advance into unoccupied territory — Visit of 
the King and Queen of the Belgians — Visits of the Duke of 
Connaught, Marshal Foch, Marshal J off re, General Pershing, and 
other distinguished ofi&cers — Visit of the Army Council — Inter- 
change of visits with AlHed Generals — Peace celebrations at Paris, 
Brussels, and London — Deer-stalking in Scotland — Sir Michael 
Culme-Seymour — Lord Charles Beresford — Changes made in system 
of administration — Reduction of Army on ratification of peace — 
Farewells previous to leaving for England — Promoted Field- 
Marshal. 

I LEFT London for the Rhine on the i8th April (Good 
Friday), being received by Lieutenant-General Sir J. Asser 
(commanding the British troops in France) and his staff at 
Boulogne, and reaching Cologne the following day. I took 
with me the same aides-de-camp as I had at the Horse 
Guards, my private secretary at first being Lieutenant- 
Colonel Seymour of the Scots Greys, and afterwards Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Dillon of the Munster Fusiliers, who had 
been one of my students at the Staff College. Dillon's 
knowledge of French and the French army was very useful, 
and in every way he was an ideal staff officer. In November 
19 19 he took over the command of one of the Rhine bat- 
talions, being succeeded by Lieutenant-Colonel Newman. 
The latter was followed by another gunner, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Gore-Browne, and both gave me great assistance. 
The same may be said of Peek, whom I was sorry to lose 
when, having been with me for nearly two years in all, he 
went home to rejoin his regiment, the 9th Lancers. He had 
been badly wounded at the beginning of the Great War, 

357 



358 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

afterwards being repatriated. To the regret of his many 
friends he was killed in March 192 1 while serving in Ireland. 
Lieutenant PhiUips, who came to me as A.D.C. in July and 
remained till I returned to England for good, was a first- 
class manager of our mess, and made all arrangements for 
the entertainment of my numerous guests. 

The principal members of the headquarters staff whom 
I found at Cologne were Major-General Sir A. Montgomery, 
Chief of the General Staff, Major-General Sir A. F. Sillem, 
Deputy Adjutant-General, and Major-General Sir E. Chi- 
chester, Deputy Quartermaster-General. Montgomery re- 
turned to England in August, and some time afterwards his 
appointment was reduced in status and filled by Brigadier- 
General FuUer. Sillem was replaced in June by my friend 
Hutchison from the War Office, who, in November, took 
charge of both Adjutant-General and Quartermaster-General's 
duties, Chichester returning to England. A great deal of 
work devolved upon the staff throughout the year, first in 
giving the army a settled organisation and preparing it to 
resume active operations — a matter to which I will refer later 
— and afterwards in connection with the repeated reorganisa- 
tions which had to be made consequent on demobilisation. 

I took over command from Sir Herbert Plumer on the 
2ist April. The army then occupied the territory extending 
north-west from the Belgian frontier to the left bank of the 
Rhine, from Dusseldorf on the left to about ten miles above 
Bonn on the right, as well as the Cologne bridgehead (with 
a radius of 30 kilometres) on the right bank. On our right 
was the American army of occupation, with headquarters 
at Coblence, and on the left the Belgian army, with head- 
quarters at Aix-la-Chapelle. French armies held the country 
between the Americans and Switzerland, their principal 
headquarters being at Mayence, Metz, Kaiserslautem, and 
Strasburg. The whole were under the command of Marshal 
Foch, who remained with his staff at Paris. 

At Cologne there was a British naval flotilla of twelve 
motor launches rmder Commander the Hon. P. Acheson. 
It was a useful addition to the army of occupation and did 
good work in patrolling the Rhine, on which there was 
a considerable amount of traffic that required watching. 




General Allex, Commander of the American Army of the Rhine, 
WITH the Author and ("olonrl Gore-Browne. 



ON THE RHINE 359 

Not being allowed to go through Dutch waters, the flotilla 
came to the Rhine by way of the French rivers and canals, 
entering at Havre and reaching Cologne after a journey 
extending over several weeks. 

The British zone of occupation measured something over 
2000 square miles and had a population of nearly two smd 
a half milHon souls. It was divided both for military and 
civil purposes into five army corps areas, these areas, as 
well as their sub-divisions, being made to coincide as far as 
possible with the German civil boundaries. My instructions 
were that each area should be regarded in the same way as 
a " command " at home, and that all troops in it, whether 
forming part of the army corps or not, should be under the 
orders of the corps commander for administration, discipline, 
and defence duties. 

Similarly, each corps commander was responsible for the 
civil administration of his area, which he carried out through 
the medium of the local civil authorities. The only excep- 
tion to this arrangement was Cologne and its suburbs, 
which were placed under a separate " civil administrator " 
attached to the staff of the Military Governor. The back 
areas of Malmedy, Montjoie, and Schheden, being unoccupied 
by troops, were administered by specially appointed officers 
reporting direct to general headquarters. 

The so-called " Mihtary Governor " was merely the senior 
staff officer at general headquarters for civil administrative 
measures : he commanded no troops, and therefore could 
issue no orders to corps commanders except with my 
authority. The real " Military Governor " was in fact none 
other than myself, the Commander-in-Chief. The title must 
have often puzzled the Germans, and it certainly tended to 
create confusion in the minds of the corps commanders, but 
as it had been in existence since we entered the country I 
decided not to change it so as to avoid causing further 
confusion. I did, however, issue instructions to corps com- 
manders to make it clear that they were responsible to me 
for their respective areas, and that the Military Governor 
was not a commander, but the staff officer through whom 
my instructions regarding civil administration were conveyed 
to them. 



36o FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

The occupied territory was, of course, under martial 
law, and as this term is rather imperfectly understood by 
the general public I may explain what it means as applied 
to a conquered country. In the first place it is not, as so 
often supposed, the same thing as " mihtary law." Military 
law is the law governing the soldier in peace and in war, 
at home and abroad. It is contained in the Army Act, 
supplemented by other Acts, Rules, and Regulations, and 
the Act is brought into operation annually by a separate 
statute, generally known as the Army Annual Act. It is part 
of the statute law of England, and, with the important differ- 
ence that it is administered by mihtary courts and not by civil 
judges, is construed in the same manner and carried out under 
the same conditions as the ordinary civil law of England. 

Martial law is something entirely different, and it differs 
according as to whether it is apphed to our own country or to 
a conquered country. In the former case it means that 
exceptional powers are assumed by the Crown, acting 
through its mihtary forces, for the restoration and main- 
tenance of good order. In other words, the ordinary law 
is suspended and government by military tribunals is sub- 
stituted. In a sense, it is not legal, for as the EngUsh law 
does not presuppose the possibility of civil war it makes no 
express provision for such a contingency. The fact that 
martial law is " proclaimed " makes no difference from the 
purely legal standpoint. The proclamation merely means 
that as the ordinary civil administration is inadequate to 
deal with the situation, the Government, in the rightful 
exercise of its duties, has decided to replace it temporarily 
by mihtary administration. 

As there is no " law " to govern their actions, the military 
authorities charged with the apphcation of this kind of 
martial law have necessarily to act according to their own 
judgment, in conformity with the instructions they receive 
from the Government, and in order to obviate any question 
as to the legahty of the measures taken by them, it is usual 
to pass an " act of indemnity." If these measures are 
honestly taken, and in accordance with official instructions, 
an officer may rely on the act of indemnity for meeting any 
legal question that may be raised. 



ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE 361 

As applied to a conquered country martial law is simply 
the will of the conqueror. The commander of the troops 
stands temporarily in the position of Governor of the 
country he occupies, and imposes such laws on the inhabitants 
as he thinks expedient for securing the safety of his army 
and the good government of the district which, by reason 
of his occupation, is for the time being deprived of its 
ordinary rulers. The legality of the laws he imposes cannot 
be called in question because there is no human means 
of doing so, but it is his duty to conform to what is known 
as the ** laws and usages of war '' in the administration of 
the occupied territory. 

This brief explanation will suffice to show the principles 
upon which the civil administration of the Rhine districts 
occupied by British troops was based. As already stated, 
the Military Governor's branch of the headquarters staff was 
charged with carrying it out, working in connection with the 
German administrative ofi&cials at Cologne. Lieutenant- 
General Sir Charles Fergusson was Military Governor from 
the commencement of the occupation to July 1919, and was 
succeeded in turn by Brigadier-General CHve and Major- 
General Kennedy. Exclusive of deciding questions of general 
poHcy, I was relieved by these officers of practically all civil 
administrative work, and was thus free to devote my time 
and attention to the troops. 

Justice was administered by " summary " and " mihtary " 
courts, the former being either permanent courts or courts 
composed of regimental officers, while the military court, 
or court-martial, was assembled as and when necessary by 
the area commandant concerned. As a rule prisoners served 
their sentences in German civil prisons, a check being kept 
on this by a British " Inspector of Prisons." The German 
civil authorities were as desirous of maintaining the peace 
and ensuring good administration as we were, and although 
it is not to be supposed that they accepted our rule with 
any special pleasure, they quite realised the position, 
recognised that they were much better off than their com- 
patriots in the unoccupied parts of Germany, were formal 
but correct in their attitude, and promptly carried out the 
orders they received. 



362 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

At different times there was, as in other parts of the 
world, England included, disagreement between employers 
and workmen, but considering the shortage of food and coal, 
and the fact that the country was passing through a form 
of revolution, there was far less trouble than might have 
been expected. My policy was to keep clear of aU labour 
disputes except when they threatened to interfere with the 
interests of the troops — such as the stoppage of electric light, 
water supply, or railway transport — or to cause disturbances 
for the suppression of which troops might have to be 
employed. The procedure I laid down was that all disputes 
likely to lead to a strike must in the first instance be sub- 
mitted to a German " court of conciHation," in which both 
sides were represented ; if no agreement was reached the 
case was submitted to a British court of arbitration, whose 
decision was final and binding. 

The officers of the Military Governor's staff rendered 
excellent service in settling many strikes which threatened 
to become serious, and throughout the thirteen months of 
British mihtary administration no great or prolonged strike 
occurred. It should be added, perhaps, that when a strike 
did occur no picketing was allowed ; protection was always 
afforded to those men who wished to work ; every considera- 
tion was given to the point of view of the workmen, who, 
by our intervention, frequently obtained the terms they 
demanded ; and any one who did not abide by our decision, 
whether employer or employee, was Hable to be dealt with 
as an offender, and was so dealt with when the occasion 
required. 

For reasons that can be understood, no one in the Rhine 
Army was allowed to " fraternise " with the inhabitants, 
and to meet this unusual condition of miUtary life additional 
facihties were afforded to ofiicers and men for taking part in 
games, theatricals, concerts, day-trips on the Rhine, and 
other forms of recreation and amusement. The Y.M.C.A., 
Church Army, Men's Leave Club, and similar societies 
gave invaluable help in this respect, and I am sure that 
thousands of the yoimg men who served in the command 
will remember with gratitude for the rest of their lives the 
many happy hours which these institutions provided for them. 



ARMY RECONSTRUCTION 363 

One of the theatres in Cologne was appropriated for the 
use of British performers, and a suitable proportion of seats 
at the opera were, by my orders, permanently reserved for 
the troops, the prices paid varying, in Enghsh money, from 
a few pence to about two shillings. The opera was said to 
be one of the best in Germany and certainly was very good, 
completely putting in the shade the operatic efforts usually 
heard in England. 

When I arrived on the Rhine the British army there con- 
sisted of five army corps, each of two divisions, with a cavalry 
division and various other troops, making a total strength 
of about 220,000 men. To meet the requirements of de- 
mobihsation the army was still in process of reconstruction, 
divisions, brigades, and battalions of the old field armies 
from France being broken up, recast, and renamed, and 
amalgamated with some sixty Graduated and Young 
Soldier battalions from home. Of the latter some battahons 
were retained intact, and others were broken up and 
distributed amongst the old battalions from France. 

One result of all this dislocation was that the regimental 
traditions and reputations which had been established during 
the fighting disappeared to a great extent, and to make 
matters more difficult the army was for some time deficient 
in two important classes of men — cooks and commanding 
officers — ^without which it is impossible to have efiiciency 
and contentment. Only a few of the yoimg battalions had 
been supplied with trained cooks before leaving England, 
while many of the old units had lost theirs by demobilisa- 
tion ; and of the ninety battalions in the army thirty had 
not yet received their permanent commanding officers, and 
in most of the remaining sixty these officers had but just 
been posted and knew Httle or nothing about their men or 
their men about them. 

The same may be said of the junior regimental officers, 
many of whom had recently been brought in from disbanded 
battahons ; they were mainly " temporary " officers, the 
regular officers having been sent home to join the regular 
units then in process of re-creation ; and as their military 
experience had been confined almost entirely to trench- 
warfare they were but indifferently quaUfied, as a rule, to 



364 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

deal with the new duties of administration and training 
which now devolved upon them. 

Further, commanders of all grades found themselves, 
consequent on the reduction of the field armies, tumbling 
down the ladder, and Generals who had commanded divisions 
for months and years in the fighting were placed in command 
of brigades ; brigadiers in the war dropped down to the 
command of a battalion or even a company ; battalion 
commanders fell to a company or a platoon. 

Most of the regular non-commissioned officers had also 
been sent home to join the regular units, the battalions on 
the Rhine thus being left chiefly with non-regulars who, as 
a rule, were young both in age and service and incapable 
of exercising proper authority over the men. These and 
practically all the men were entitled to be demobilised at 
varying dates according to the conditions under which they 
had entered the army, and, for the same reasons as those 
which had led to dissatisfaction at home, to which reference 
has been made in the preceding chapter, there was some 
discontent amongst the men with respect to the manner 
in which demobilisation was being carried out. To allay 
disturbing elements of this kind it was jssential to have 
good regimental officers, personally known to and trusted 
by the men, and as just explained these were seldom 
forthcoming. 

Practically every post brought me appeals from employers 
or relatives in England to release men who were held to be 
entitled, either legally or on compassionate groimds, to be 
set free. Some hard cases came to my notice, and hard or 
otherwise all were sympathetically dealt with by my staff 
as far as the regulations would permit. Some of my corre- 
spondents were very grateful for the help we were able to 
give them. Here is a letter I received from the wife of a 
man whose release was expedited : 

Dear Sir — Just a line thanking you very much for seeing 

into Mr. 's case for me. For you have done a great lot for 

me in sending him home, and I hope that the best of luck follows 
you for ever. Once again thank you very much. — Yoins truly 
greatfuU, 



REORGANISATION COMPLETED 365 

The unsatisfactory state of affairs above described could 
not have been wholly prevented, but there it was, and it 
was not calculated to make the general atmosphere either 
contented or exhilarating, or to render easy the preparations 
which had to be made for an advance into unoccupied 
Germany if that became necessary in order to compel her 
to sign the treaty of peace — ^when ready for signature. 

My first step was to assemble the corps commanders, 
Morland, Godley, Jacob, Haldane, and Braithwaite, discuss 
the situation with them, and inform them of my intentions. 
This I did immediately after assuming command, and I also 
began a tour of inspections so as to make myself personally 
acquainted with the officers and men, and with the state 
of readiness of the army for resuming active operations. 
During the first two months I was engaged in carrying out 
these inspections every day in the week except Sunday 
(when I visited the hospitals), and having regard to the 
conditions imder which the army had been thrown together 
it was not surprising that many shortcomings were evident. 

Besides the disadvantages to which reference has been 
made, I had to contend against the assumption — ^fostered 
by what had been said during the general election — that 
the war was ** over," from which it was argued that training 
was no longer necessary. Further, many of the young 
infantry soldiers from home had not been instructed in the 
use of the rifle ; the young artillery soldiers could neither 
drive nor shoot ; and some of the cavalry regiments were so 
weak in numbers that they could not move from one station 
to another without borrowing men from other regiments to 
lead their spare horses. Sometimes I almost despaired of 
ever straightening out the tangle and reaching a reasonable 
standard of efficiency, but British officers and men are made 
of good material, and once a matter is properly explained 
and they understand what is expected of them, they may 
be depended upon to respond. They did so on this 
occasion. Everybody put his shoulder to the wheel, and 
by the middle of June, when a further advance into Germany 
was contemplated, reorganisation had been fairly well 
completed ; the troops, elated at the prospect of going 
forward, presented a cheerful and workmanlike appearance ; 



366 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

and I felt satisfied that they were capable of caiT5dng out 
the mission assigned to them. 

I had been summoned to Paris to confer with Marshal 
Foch and the Commanders-in-Chief of the AlHed armies as 
far back as the end of April, as it was thought that we might 
have to advance about the middle of May, but owing to the 
slow progress made in completing the peace negotiations no 
movement of troops became necessary until the 17th of June. 
On that day the divisions began to concentrate east of the 
Rhine, and by the evening of the 19th were in readiness to 
cross the line separating occupied from unoccupied territory. 
Five days later Germany undertook to sign the treaty ; her 
delegates for that purpose passed through Cologne from 
Berlin en route to Versailles on the 27th, and on the 28th 
the treaty was signed. 

During the spring and summer of 1919 I received several 
distinguished visitors at my headquarters, the first to come 
being the King and Queen of the Belgians. Their Majesties 
arrived by aeroplane on the 26th of April and returned to 
Brussels in the same manner, despite very unsettled weather, 
on the 28th of April. The same evening the King sent me 
the following telegram : 

The Queen and myself express to you our most sincere thanks 
for the kindness you have shown to us in Cologne. It was a 
great pleasure to see you and to visit a part of the British sector 
of occupation on the Rhine. 

Albert. 

The Duke of Connaught, accompanied by Lieutenant- 
Colonel Sir Malcolm Murray, arrived on the 6th of May and 
spent three days with the army. Amongst other events 
His Royal Highness inspected three battalions of the Rifle 
Brigade, of which he is Colonel-in-Chief, and held a review 
of the Northern Division, about 10,000 men, on the German 
parade ground just outside the town. This review was of 
interest as being the only one of its kind held by a member 
of the Royal Family during the occupation. 

General Liggett, commanding the American army of 
occupation, paid me a visit at the same time as the Duke 
of Connaught ; General Pershing came to present me with the 




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MARSHAL FOCH'S VISIT 367 

American distinguished service medal on the 12th of May ; 
and General Bliss came two days later. General Liggett 
was succeeded by General Allen, with whom, as well as with 
General Michel, commanding the Belgian army of occupation, 
I frequently exchanged visits. Italian, Japanese, and Chinese 
Generals were also amongst my visitors. 

Marshal Foch, with General Weygand and others of his 
staff, came on the i6th of May and left the following day. 
He had begun a tour down the Rhine at Strasburg a few days 
earher, the first since the Armistice, halting at Mayence and 
Coblence en route to Cologne. He travelled on board one of 
the Rhine steamers, the Prince Bismarck, and on entering 
the British zone was received with a salute from our naval 
flotilla ; a squadron of aeroplanes followed his course down 
the river, the banks of which were lined with troops at Bonn 
and other places ; and at Cologne he was greeted with 
rousing cheers from the troops assembled on theHohenzollem 
bridge and from others who clustered round his motor-car 
as it proceeded from the quay to my house outside the town. 
Thousands of Germans came to see the man of whose name 
they had heard so much, and although they did not 
contribute to the cheering their demeanour was, as always, 
strictly " correct." 

As the car slowly forced its way through the troops, who, 
with the exception of the guard of honour, were not 
" formed up " but had been allowed to Une the road in their 
own way, the Marshal was much moved at the welcome 
accorded him, and compared the anxious times we had 
experienced together between 1914 and 1918 with the drive 
we were then making on the banks of the Rhine, saluted 
by German policemen and acclaimed by British soldiers — 
a termination to the Great War which in those far-off and 
critical days would sometimes have seemed, had we thought 
of it at all, to be impossible of reaUsation in May 1919, if ever. 

After we had discussed the operations which might have 
to be undertaken, he motored round part of the bridgehead 
east of the Rhine, being greatly impressed, as all my visitors 
were, with the tidiness and general prosperity of the country, 
the multitude of children to be seen, and the orderly 
behaviour of the inhabitants. ' 



368 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Marshal Joffre made a tour of the Rhine Provinces 
similar to that of Marshal Foch, and arrived at Cologne by 
rail, accompanied by la Marechale, on the 24th of September, 
leaving the same night for Aix-la-Chapelle after dining at 
my house. He was received by a guard of honour, composed 
of cavalry, infantry, and tanks, on the Dom Platz, where 
large numbers of Germans congregated to see him. He 
evidently felt gratified at the opportunity of renewing his 
acquaintance with British troops, and it was equally a 
pleasure to us to receive him. 

Other French officers who came to Cologne were Marshal 
P^tain, Commander-in-Chief of the French armies ; General 
Mangin, commanding part of the French armies of occupa- 
tion, an interesting personaUty who had seen much service 
in the French colonies and was with Colonel Marchand at 
the time of the Fashoda incident ; General Fayolle, com- 
manding another part of the French armies of occupation, 
with headquarters at Kaiserslautem ; General Gouraud, 
commanding the Strasburg area, who had served with the 
French contingent sent to Gallipoli, where he was severely 
wounded ; and General Degoutte, who later succeeded 
General Mangin at Mayence and eventually became Com- 
mander-in-Chief of all the Allied forces of occupation. 
These Generals spoke in high terms of the appearance of the 
troops shown for their inspection, and of the soldier-Hke 
manner in which they moved on parade. A typical example 
of this appreciation was provided in a letter I received from 
General Gouraud, who wrote : 

Croyez que je n'oublierai jamais votre cordial accueil et 
r^mouvante revue ou j'ai Fhonneur de voir defiler devant moi 
de magnifiques d^tachements de troupes britanniques sur la place 
de la cath^drale de Cologne. 

I should add that the relations between the British 
troops and the French, Belgian, and American armies were 
throughout of the most cordial nature as regards work, 
while as to play there was much friendly rivalry in racing, 
horse-shows, and football, and some mutual benefit was, no 
doubt, also derived from the other forms of amusement and 
recreation for which reciprocal invitations were given. 




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VISIT OF THE ARMY COUNCIL 369 

The Army Council, represented by the Secretary of State 
for War (Mr. Winston Churchill), the Chief of the Imperial 
General Staff, and the Adjutant-General, arrived at Cologne 
on the 17th of August and left on the 20th of that month. 
They were shown as many of the troops as time would 
permit them to see, including a review of the 6th Army 
Corps, the women-workers, clubs, and regimental institutes, 
and on the last day they descended the Rhine from Remagen, 
15 miles above Bonn, to Cologne, accompanied by the 
naval flotilla and two squadrons of the air force. The 
reverberations of the naval salute in the defiles of the 
Rhine when the party went on board, the sheets of white 
foam thrown up by the rapidly-moving motor launches, the 
humming of the aeroplanes in the cloudless sky, and the 
wonderful colouring of the surrounding country characteristic 
of the Rhine valley, constituted an impressive spectacle not 
easily to be forgotten. 

After their return to England the Council sent me the 
following telegram : 

Please convey to all ranks Rhine army the thanks of the 
Army Council for their message of August 21. The Council 
have greatly valued the opportunities of personal touch with 
the troops afforded them by their visit, of which they retain the 
pleasantest memories. The Council were deeply impressed with 
the soldierly bearing and the fine spirit shown by the troops 
under your Command, who worthily uphold the best traditions 
of the British army. 

In returning the visits of the Allied Generals I was 
always shown great courtesy and hospitality, the guards of 
honour with which I was received usually being drawn up 
in the principal square of the town and consisting of at 
least a battaUon of infantry, cavalry also being included if 
available. The general arrangements and the turn-out of 
the troops were a proof that the ceremony was not merely 
a matter of form, but that pains had been taken to make 
it a genuine mark of respect to the representative of the 
British army. 

One of the first of these visits was paid to General 
Mangin at Mayence on the 2nd of June, when, by the King's 
command, I presented him with the K.C.B. The General 

2 B 



370 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

lived in the palace of the Duke of Hesse, which was frequently 
occupied by Napoleon during his campaigns beyond the 
Rhine, and the room in which he slept is stiU retained in 
much the same order as when he used it. I was told that 
when Marshal Foch was staying here with General Mangin 
he was invited to sleep in the bed. His reply was, " Thank 
you, but I am too small." 

The following morning I reached Metz, where, after visit- 
ing the battlefield of Verdun during the day, I dined with 
the garrison commander, General Maud'huy, who occupied 
the same house as that in which the German commandant 
had lived, and to which I used to go to report my arrival 
when at Metz before the war. General Maud'huy is a 
native of Metz, and as a boy of about ten years of age was 
living in the town at the time of the 1870 war. He told 
me that some years later, when he had become an officer of 
the French army, the German authorities at Metz refused to 
give him permission to go there to attend his mother's funeral. 

On the 20th of July I paid another visit to General Mangin, 
who met me at Bingen and accompanied me in the train to 
Mayence, where the arrival platform and waiting-room were 
profusely decorated with flags and flowers. Outside the 
station a fine-looking French battahon formed the guard of 
honour, a squadron of African cavalry escorted us through 
the town to the palace, and there we were received by a 
battalion of African infantry. In the evening there was 
a dinner-party, a dance, and a torchlight tattoo, which, 
as seen from the palace windows overlooking the Rhine, 
presented a remarkably brilliant spectacle. 

The following day I went to Strasburg as the guest of 
General Gouraud, who, after dejeuner, made a ver},^ compli- 
mentary speech about the British army, for which I was 
quite unprepared and therefore experienced some difficulty 
in giving, in French, a suitable reply to it. I spent the 
evening at the house of M. Millerand, then Governor of 
Alsace and now President of the French RepubHc, who had 
invited about thirty people to dinner. In the course of our 
conversation, which was very interesting to me, he recalled 
the fact that we had first met on the West Front in 1915 
when he was Minister of War. 







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PEACE CELEBRATIONS 371 

On the 23rd I arrived at Kaiserslautern, and after dejeuner 
went with General Fayolle for a four hours' motor drive 
through the beautiful country of the Vosges. He was a 
charming host and, hke the other French generals, did all 
in his power to render the visit agreeable. 

On the 31st of July I went to Aix-la-Chapelle to 
present about thirty decorations to certain Belgian officers 
and men. A battahon of Belgian infantry and a squadron 
of cavalry, as well as a detachment of French troops, were 
formed up in the square in front of the Rathaus, and after 
the presentation was over I met a number of Belgian and 
French officers at the General's house. 

By the invitation of M. Clemenceau I attended the peace 
celebration held at Paris on the 14th of July, the British 
contingent consisting of 1000 men from the Rhine and 
about half that number from England. Paris was seen at 
its best, which is saying a good deal, for there is no city in 
the world so well adapted for a public display or that so 
well understands how to make it attractive, and all classes 
seemed to combine to give the proceedings an air of genuine 
rejoicing. In the evening a dinner was given by M. Poincare 
at the filysee to about 120 officers, to which I had the 
honour of being invited. Madame Poincar^ was the only 
lady present. 

I was also invited to attend the Belgian peace celebration 
at Brussels on the 22nd of July, but was prevented by duty 
from going. 

At the British peace celebration in London on the 19th 
of July I was not present, as I was not asked to attend. 

In September I took a few days' leave for deer-stalking 
at LangweU, the Scottish home of the Duke and Duchess of 
Portland, where I had received some lessons in the art of 
stalking from the Duke himself during two brief visits in 19 18. 

Admiral Sir Michael Culme-Seymour and Lord Charles 
Beresford were of the party, as they had been the year 
before and on many previous occasions. Sir Michael, I 
beheve, had not once missed for over twenty years. These 
two fine old sailors were splendid company, and amused us 
greatly by the downright way in which they expressed their 
opinions about things naval and otherwise. I remember 



372 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

that Lord Fisher had just written one of his characteristic 
letters to The Times — ^its subject has escaped my memory 
— and the editor telegraphed to Lord Charles asking for his 
views upon it. On the Thursday evening Lord Charles told 
us that he would devote Sunday to the preparation of his 
reply, and would write something pretty hot. *' Don't make 
a fool of yourself, Charlie/' advised Sir Michael in his 
characteristically blunt manner. But man proposes and 
God disposes. When I left Langwell on the following morn- 
ing Lord Charles seemed to be in his usual health and was 
certainly in excellent spirits, much good-humoured chaff 
taking place between him and Sir Michael during breakfast 
about a new suit of clothes he was wearing. On the Saturday 
evening, having retired early to his room, he was seized 
with a sudden illness and mthin a few minutes was dead. 
The contribution to The Times was therefore never written. 

Sir Michael, over 80 years of age, was a marvel of vitality 
and energy. He would walk all day over the moors killing 
his one or two stags, sometimes three, and when not out 
stalking would take his place on the tennis-court or the golf 
hnks little inferior to men years younger than himself. 
Some months later his health broke down, and when I was 
next at Langwell, in October 1920, we received the news of 
his death. 

Langwell is situated on the east coast of Scotland, 
43 miles south of John o' Groat's house. It stands on 
high ground flanked north and south by the deep and 
wooded gorges of the Berriedale and Langwell rivers re- 
spectively. These streams unite in the little village of 
Berriedale at the foot of the hill, the combined stream 
then flowing for some two hundred yards through a defile, 
the sides of which are nearly 300 feet high, before dis- 
charging its waters into the North Sea. Amid this grand 
highland scenery, and at the point of confluence of the two 
streams, is the memorial recently erected by the Duke in 
honour of the officers and men of his Caithness estates who 
served in the Great War. It is one of the most impressive 
and best-designed war memorials I have seen. 

The Duke is not only an excellent all-round sportsman 
himself, but does everything he can to ensure that his 



HONORARY DEGREES 373 

guests have good sport and plenty of it Whenever I go 
to Langwell, or think of the pleasant days I have spent 
there, I find it difficult not to break the tenth command- 
ment. 

In November I went to Cambridge to receive the honorary 
degree of LL.D., which that university was kind enough to 
confer upon me and other officers of the fighting services in 
recognition of our work during the war. The ceremony of 
giving the degrees was presided over by Mr. Balfour, and 
was of a rather more elaborate kind than usual as he was 
installed Chancellor of the university on the same day. 
The undergraduates, of whom a large number were present, 
surprised me by the mildness of their behaviour during and 
after the proceedings, as I had always understood that it 
was their custom on these occasions to behave in anything 
but a mild manner. They rode on the roofs and bonnets of 
the motor-cars conve5dng the new " Doctors " to the college 
where the official luncheon was to take place ; the heels of 
some of them found their way through the glass of the car 
windows ; and they insisted, with rare good humour, on 
carrying us on their shoulders into the college grounds when 
we left the cars. This, however, was the sum of their 
attentions, and it gave us as much amusement as it seemed 
to give them. 

I had been informed earUer in the year that the university 
of Oxford was desirous of showing me a similar kindness by 
the granting of an honorary degree as D.C.L., but I could 
not leave my command at the time the ceremony took place. 
The invitation was renewed in 1920, and I was then able to 
be present. M. Paderewski and M. Venizelos were amongst 
those who received degrees on this occasion. 

Soon after the peace treaty had been signed instructions 
were received from the War Office to proceed with the 
reduction of the Rhine army. At first it was the intention 
to retain six divisions, and two of the ten divisions then 
on the Rhine were ordered to England on 31st July. Many 
different instructions were subsequently received, and in the 
end it was decided to retain only about 15,000 men as the 
permanent garrison, with an independent division of about 
the same strength for temporary service in East Prussia and 



374 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Silesia pending the taking of the plebiscite after the peace 
treaty had been ratified. Demobilisation, and consequent 
reorganisation, accordingly continued for the greater part 
of 1919, and as the treaty was not ratified until the loth 
of January 1920 it was then found that the independent 
division could not after all be employed in the manner 
intended, as the majority of the men were due for de- 
mobilisation before the end of March and some of them at 
a much earher date. The division was therefore ordered 
to be demobilised forthwith, and the battahons for the 
plebiscite area were sent out from home. By the end of 
February demobihsation had been completed and the Rhine 
garrison had been nearly reduced to its assigned strength. 

The ratification of peace caused another modification of 
our arrangements, as by the terms of the treaty the civil 
administration of the occupied territory passed out of the 
hands of the mihtary authorities and was vested in a civihan 
body styled the " Rhineland High Commission," composed 
of representatives of France, Belgium, America, and Great 
Britain. I beheve that this system of setting up a civihan 
body as the supreme authority during the mihtary occupa- 
tion of a conquered country is without precedent, and 
there was a chance that it might lead to difficulty in 
apphcation. 

For example, the civil administration, which had hitherto 
been supervised by the AUied Commanders-in-Chief, reverted 
to the German authorities, subject to certain saving clauses 
with respect to the AUied troops and to the " ordinances " 
that might be issued by the Rhineland High Commission. 
The German authorities were thus left responsible for the 
maintenance of order, but not being allowed to retain any 
troops in the occupied territory they had only the pohce to 
rely upon, and they were of indifferent quahty. If and 
when the pohce required assistance the German authorities 
had to apply to the Commission, and the latter had then 
to instruct the Commander-in-Chief of the Alhed forces to 
direct the AlUed Commander-in-Chief concerned to furnish 
the requisite troops, or, if the Commission deemed it 
desirable, they could declare a *' state of siege," or martial 
law as we would call it, upon which the military authorities 



SIR HAROLD STUART 375 

would resume complete control. In either case, therefore, 
these authorities would suddenly be required to deal with a 
situation with which they might have previously had no 
connection, and about which they might know little or 
nothing. 

The use of military forces to assist the civil power is a 
difficult task in one's own country ; the use of Allied troops 
to assist German police, in the circumstances just described, 
was Ukely to be even more compHcated. The necessity for 
giving this assistance did not, I am glad to say, arise during 
my period of command, but had it arisen I have no doubt 
that a way out of the difficulties would have been found, 
as they were fuUy recognised by the Commission. My 
relations with the Commission were particularly cordial, a 
result which I feel was mainly due to the good offices 
of the British representative. Sir Harold Stuart. 

America, I may add, had as yet no legal status on the 
Commission, for not having ratified the peace treaty she 
did not come under its terms, and therefore while the 
French, British, and Belgian areas were administered under 
the new system, in the American area the old system was 
continued, the American General remaining the supreme 
authority. Like the practical man he was, the General 
solved the difficulty by issuing to the inhabitants of his area 
the same orders as were issued by the Commission to the 
other areas. Another rather quaint feature was that the 
Commission, called into being by the ratification of peace, 
had its headquarters at Coblence in the area of the 
Americans who were still at war ! 

Consequent on the reduction of the army and the change 
in the system of civil administration I was ordered to hand 
over my command to a more junior officer, Lieutenant- 
General Morland, on the 3rd of March. 

Previous to leaving, my wife and I had the honour of 
being invited to stay with the King and Queen of the Belgians 
at their palace at Laeken. Thanks to the kind reception 
accorded to us by Their Majesties, the visit was most 
enjoyable and interesting. 

General Degoutte came from Mayence to Cologne to bid 
me good-bye, and General Michel and his wife came over 



376 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

from Aix-la-Chapelle for the same purpose. Colonel Biddle, 
the popular American Uaison officer attached to my head- 
quarters, with Mrs. Biddle, General and Mrs. AUen, and 
other Americans, entertained us at dinner at Cologne on 
the 25th of February, and on the 27th we were similarly 
entertained at Coblence by the Rhineland High Commission, 
M. Tirard, the French representative on the Commission, 
being the chief host. The dinner was followed by a ball, at 
which General Degoutte and other French Generals from 
Mayence and General Allen and many American officers 
and their wives were present. 

Next day Sir Harold Stuart took me for a motor drive 
through the American area on the right bank of the Rhine, 
and in the course of it Gore-Browne made an excellent 
snapshot of us while standing near the stone at Ems which 
marks the spot of the historic meeting between Benedetti 
and King William of Prussia just previous to the Franco - 
German War of 1870. On return to Coblence I was received, 
for the last time, by an American guard of honour, and after 
luncheon parted company with General Allen and my other 
American friends. 

There were more farewell gatherings at Cologne during 
my few remaining days on the Rhine. They included a 
dinner with some forty-five members of the headquarters 
staff, with whom I spent one of the most gratifying evenings 
of my hfe, notwithstanding the thought that I was separating 
from some of the best fellows in the world. The series was 
brought to an end on the night of the 3rd of March, when, 
having previously attended the opera with the Hutchisons, 
I left for Calais at 11 p.m. by the special train which I had 
used throughout my period of command. 

Although I had caused it to be known that I did not 
wish for any one to see me off from the station, a number 
of officers and their wives assembled on the platform, which 
was covered with the red carpet used by the ex-Kaiser on 
his visits to Cologne, the Inniskilling Dragoons sent their 
band, and the loth Middlesex formed a guard of honour, 
the commanding officer — Dillon, my old private secretary 
— ^irregularly, but affectionately, taking command of it. It 
was a bad wrench parting with so many good friends, and 




f 



% 




RETURN HOME 377 

the train carried me away with a sharp pain in my heart 
and the tune of " Auld Lang Syne " ringing in my ears. 

Hutchison and Gore-Brown accompanied me to Calais, 
and there I was received by General Gibb, commanding the 
British troops in France, his staff, and a guard of honour 
formed by the Labour Battalion of the King's Liverpool 
Regiment — a fine body of old soldiers wearing, for the most 
part, several medal ribbons. I felt that this was probably 
my last parade in an active capacity, which now extended 
over a period of more than forty-two years, and, as can be 
imagined, each hand-shake, each good-bye, became harder 
than its predecessor. I was glad when the boat cast off, 
and the sound of " Auld Lang Syne " had died away. 

The two people I last recognised were the faithful 
" Hutch," who had walked on alone to the end of the 
quay so as to give me a final salute as I stood on the bridge, 
and my German attendant on the special train, who waved 
a table napkin from the saloon window, his regrets at my 
departure — though probably quite sincere in themselves 
— possibly being mixed with fears that the future might 
have in store for him a less pleasant Ufe than when his only 
duty was to see to the creature comforts of the Enghsh 
General commanding at Cologne. 

The anti-chmax of these events was experienced when, 
on a dark and dismal night, I arrived at Victoria Station. 
Here there was no guard of honour, no official greeting of 
any kind, and having secured a broken-down taxi I drove 
off to my residence in Eccleston Square, and thereupon 
joined the long Hst of unemployed officers on half -pay. 

Dobson, my soldier-groom and a typical artillery driver, 
accompanied me home, having been almost continuously 
with me for thirteen years. I owe a great deal to him for 
the way in which he looked after my horses and saddlery 
during that period. Robinson, my soldier-valet in the war 
and belonging to the K.R.R.C, had been demobilised shortly 
after the Armistice. He also rendered me much good service, 
and, besides seeing to my personal affairs when serving on 
the West Front, was very helpful in the frequent journeys I 
made between England and the continent when C.LG.S. I 
was fortunate to have had two such good men with me. 



378 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Before leaving Cologne I sent a short letter of adieu to 
Marshal Foch, to which he replied thus : 

26,3.20. 

Hon CHER Gi:Ni:RAL — Vous avez ^te tr^s aimable de penser a 
moi en quittant Cologne et moi j'ai et^ tres maUieureux de ne 
pas vous y trouver quand je m'y suis rendu. Les circonstances 
dans lesquelles nous nous sommes connus et pratiques, depuis le 
debut de la grande guerre, nous avaient permis une mesure 
exacte et complete de nous-memes. Nous avions souvent 
travaille ensemble dans des journees critiques, nous avions joints 
tons nos efforts pour sortir des crises. Et de cette union aussi 
franche et aussi droite que possible nous avions bien tire des 
solutions heureuses pour nos armies. Nous n'avions pas perdu 
tout notre temps. De ces souvenirs, dont je suis fier, je vous 
reste particuli^rement attach^, soyez-en bien convaincu. J'ai 
toujours prfeents a I'esprit, votre conscience, votre experience, 
votre activite, avec une parfaite droiture dans les relations. 
Aujourd'hui le commandement de Cologne ne pouvait tant 
exiger, et c'est pour cela que j'espere bientot vous voir dans un 
de vos grands commandements devenu plus important. En tout 
cas, mon cher General, je souhaite que les circonstances de la 
carriere me permettent de vous retrouver souvent, ce sera la 
toujours, pour moi, une grande satisfaction. Recevez ime fois de 
plus I'assurance de mes bien attach^ sentiments. 

F. Foch. 

[Translation. 

It was most kind of you to think of me when leaving Cologne, 
and I was very disappointed not to find you there at the time of 
my visit. The conditions under which we became acquainted 
and have worked together since the commencement of the Great 
War have enabled us to get to know each other very intimately. 
We have worked together in critical times, and have combined 
our efforts in overcoming the crises as they arose. From this 
concord, as frank as it was straightforward, we have been able 
to reach decisions of the best advantage to our armies. We have 
made good use of our time, and you may rest assured that these 
memories, of which I am proud, make me particularly attached to 
you. I always have in mind the perception, experience, activity 
and perfect honesty which you showed during our relationship. 
The Cologne command does not now call for the same quaUfica- 
tions as before, and for that reason I hope you may soon be given 
a command of greater importance. In any case, my dear 
General, I trust that circumstances will permit of my frequently 



PROMOTED FIELD-MARSHAL 379 

meeting you, which will always be a great pleasure. Pray 
receive once more the assurance of my closest regard. 

F. FocH.] 

I had reason to believe when I left the Rhine that 
I should be appointed to command the forces in Ireland, 
but the Government decided otherwise. Ireland was not 
altogether a bed of roses, viewed from the standpoint of 
the Commander-in-Chief, and such disappointment as I felt 
at remaining imemployed was further mitigated on the 
29th of March, when, on the recommendation of Mr. Churchill, 
the Secretary of State for War, His Majesty promoted me 
Field-Marshal. 



CHAPTER XIX 

SOME FINAL REFLECTIONS 

Characteristics of British soldier — Unpopularity of the army as compared 
with the navy — Study of mihtary history by statesmen — Results 
of its neglect. 

Having now brought to an end the story of my military 
career, it is with a feeling of regret that I take leave of the 
British soldier, with whom I served for so many years, in 
all grades, in different countries, in peace and in war. He 
may not possess to the same extent the elan and logical 
mind of his French comrade in arms ; he may not be such 
an adept at expedients or at first fight with such vehemence 
as his American kinsman ; he is apt to be rather a slow 
starter and casual in things mihtary ; but once he reaHses 
that he is up against a tough proposition and decides to take 
off his coat, there is no hmit to his staying power as there 
is none to the initiative and daring of which he is capable, 
and the tougher the proposition the firmer becomes his 
resolution to overcome it. His world-wide reputation for 
stubborn resistance is well deserved, for in ill fortune as in 
good it is seldom that a British regiment has failed to hold 
together. This indestructible cohesion, the most valuable 
quality that an armed body of men can possess, is not to be 
attributed merely to hereditary causes. It is largely based 
on reciprocal confidence and respect, and can only be secured 
when the men in the ranks have imphcit faith in the ability 
and justice of their officers, and when the officers have the 
same behef in the valour and discipline of their men. It 
is gratifying to know that, notwithstanding the levelHng 
tendencies of the age in which we live, and the fact that 
our armies were mainly composed of personnel taken straight 
from civil life, these mutually good relations were as readily 

380 



THE BRITISH SOLDIER 381 

and spontaneously forthcoming in the Great War as when 
they proved their worth in the days of Marlborough and 
Wellington. 

As I have remarked in an earUer chapter, the British 
soldier has no use for those who, showing no personal 
interest in him, would push him about as a pawn on a 
chessboard, and, like other sane mortals, he is not prepared 
to be killed " by order/' But win his esteem, make him 
proud of himself and his regiment, remind him of his home, 
and he will flinch at nothing. " Why on earth do you want 
bands ? " once demanded a staff officer of a General who 
was then serving on the West Front and had suggested that 
the regimental bands — left behind in England — should be 

sent out. " Why on earth do you ask such a d d silly 

question ? " inquired the General in reply. " But since you 
ask I will tell you. I want my men occasionally to hear 
' It's a long, long way to Tipperary ' and their other favourite 
music-hall songs, and on Sundays to hear the church hymns 
they were accustomed to hear when they were boys at home." 
The bands were sent out, eventually. 

There is an old proverb that one volunteer is worth three 
pressed men, but without being in any way immindful of 
the hundreds of thousands of our race who joined the fighting 
forces of their own free will, many of whom were Hving in 
' remote parts of far distant continents, it may still be said 
that the truth of the proverb received Httle, if any, support 
from the evidence to be derived from the Great War. The 
conscripts, so called, were not less ready to accept the 
sacrifice by which victory is achieved than were those who 
entered the armies as volunteers, just as those who were 
soldiers only for the war were no less resolved to conquer 
than were the men who belonged to the regular forces. 

It was sometimes alleged during the Great War, and after 
it, that appropriate use was not made of the ofiicers of non- 
regular units, and that regular officers not endowed with 
half their intellectual abihty were given appointments in 
preference to them. Not improbably this statement was 
bom of the opinion, rather commonly held, that the best 
brains of the nation gravitate more generally to the learned 
professions or to commerce than to the fighting services. I 



382 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

question if this opinion is substantiated by the history of 
our Empire, and as regards the early period of the war it 
should be remembered that an officer who has served in the 
army for only a few weeks is not Hkely to be so competent, 
or to command the same confidence from those above and 
below him, as one whose service may run into several years. 
In the army as in civil Hfe efficiency and success depend 
upon systematic training. 

Later in the war, when the non-regular officers had ac- 
quired much the same experience at the front as many of their 
regular comrades, there was, perhaps, more justification for 
the complaint, but here again it should be remembered that, 
as in all cases of improvisation, waste of valuable material 
is bound to occur when large armies have to be created at 
short notice, and cannot be entirely prevented. One can 
only hope that, in the nation's interest, every effort will be 
made to minimise it. Subject to these remarks, I cannot 
think that any responsible General would make the slightest 
difference in the treatment of either officers or men, whether 
belonging to the new army or to the old, and I am sure that 
all regular officers admired the keenness with which the non- 
regulars shouldered their new duties, and rapidly learnt to 
appreciate the importance of discipline. 

Unfortunately for the British soldier, whether regular 
or non-regular, the army is not popular in the sense that the 
navy is. The latter usually enjoys full pubHc support, the 
army seldom does except in war, and consequently it labours 
under considerable disadvantages in its efforts to prepare 
for war, and from this it has followed that our wars have so 
often been a case of " muddling through." In the Great 
War nearly every household in the country had at least one 
of its members in the army ; every one having a shred of 
justification, or even none at all, hurried to put on khaki ; 
and one hoped that at last the army had made good in the 
eyes of the people. In fact the height of success seemed to 
have been attained, for the people and the army had become 
one and the same thing, and the brick wall that used to 
separate them seemed to have been effectively broken down. 
But no sooner was the war over than the dislike to military 
uniform reasserted itself, every one who could promptly 



EDUCATED LEADERS 383 

discarded it, the officers at the War Office setting the 
example, and the army quickly drifted back to the position 
it had held before the war. This disappointing result was 
perhaps not surprising, and it need not be a cause of anxiety, 
since it was only natural that there should be a reaction after 
the long years of war through which we had passed. The 
resolution shown by all classes at home during these years, 
and the deeds of the men who fought at Ypres, on the 
Somme, at Passchendaele and Gallipoli, more than prove 
that, if correctly informed by its parliamentary representa- 
tives, the country may safely be trusted to answer the call 
of duty, in the future as in the past. To think otherwise 
would be a libel on the living and an insult to the dead. 

A matter of more immediate importance is that the nation 
should realise the necessity for having educated leaders — 
trained statesmen — to conduct its war business, if and when 
war should again come along. This is a direction in which 
much-needed preparation can be made without the expen- 
diture of cash, and it may be the means of saving tens of 
thousands of lives and hundreds of millions of money. In 
all trades and professions the man who aims at taking the 
lead knows that he must first learn the business he purposes 
to follow : that he must be systematically trained in it. 
Only in the business of war — the most difficult of all — is 
no special training or study demanded from those charged 
with, and paid for, its management. This is the more to 
be regretted because, as the Empire is scattered all over 
the globe, occupies about a quarter of the world's surface, 
and exceeds in population one-quarter of the human race, 
the problems which confront British statesmen are far more 
numerous and intricate than those which have to be dealt 
with by the statesmen of other countries. Long after 
August 1914 ministers could be seen groping uncertainly 
forward in the discharge of their duties, having no good 
knowledge of the principles or methods which should guide 
them ; the numerous questions which daily arose came 
too frequently as a surprise, whereas they ought to have 
been foreseen ; and the ability to deal with them on sound 
lines had too often to be acquired by experience — the most 
costly of all schools. 



384 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

Years before the close of the last century thinking men 
urged that those intending to follow a pohtical career should 
prepare themselves for it by a careful study of military 
history — that is, of the defence of empires — ^but although 
some of the universities took steps to provide facilities for 
this study, it continued to be shunned in favour of more 
popular subjects, such as social reform, which were, and still 
are, deemed to have greater value for the Cabinet aspirant. 

Far be it from me to suggest that embryo statesmen 
should study military history with a view to becoming 
generals and admirals. As a great military writer has 
truly said : " War is, above all, a practical art, and 
the application of theory to practice is not to be taught 
at any imiversity, or to be learned by those who have 
never rubbed shoulders with the men in the ranks." This 
being so, the statesman should never attempt to frame a 
plan of campaign for himself — that way lies disaster, as was 
proved in the Great War ; he should never try unduly to 
influence the professional, whose function it is to frame the 
plan, to go back on his considered judgment ; once he has 
approved of a plan he should not interfere with its execution, 
or limit the number of troops to be employed ; and, in 
general, he should recognise the Une beyond which his 
interference in the domain of the naval and military leader 
becomes an impediment rather than an aid to success. 

But although the statesman is not required to handle 
fleets and armies, and, from lack of practical experience 
and acquaintance with details, should never attempt to 
handle them, he ought to have a correct knowledge of the 
way in which the use or misuse of those instruments may 
affect the welfare of the State, and he is required to have 
the same kind of knowledge with respect to finance, shipping, 
industry, food, and all the many other component parts of 
the nation's strength. Here, again, he should not attempt 
to become either a bank manager, a ship-builder, a cotton- 
spinner, or even a farmer, but he ought to be able to 
appreciate the values, relative and collective, of the re- 
sources with which these experts deal, and to recognise the 
point where, in the nation's interests, his control should 
intervene and where it should be withheld. 



THE DUTIES OF STATESMEN 385 

It is much too commonly supposed that war is a matter 
solely for armies and navies, and that a statesman's duties 
are concerned almost entirely with those services. This is 
as wide apart as the poles from being the truth. War 
draws into its vortex every element of the national Hfe, 
nothing escapes it, and upon the statesman devolves the 
responsibihty, once war is declared, for combining the whole 
diplomatic, political, financial, industrial, naval, and mili- 
tary powers of the nation for the defeat of the enemy. 

It seems impossible that he can properly carry out this 
task unless previously fortified with a good knowledge of 
the business of war, and there is little doubt that if political 
and military history had been more carefully studied by 
British statesmen in the years before the Great War, the 
evils attending constant changes from one military plan to 
another would have been better understood by them ; 
there would have been less repetition of the mistakes made 
in the Napoleonic wars of dissipating our forces in secondary 
and unsoimd enterprises ; our commercial, industrial, and 
man-power resources would have been more intelligently co- 
ordinated and brought into requisition at an earUer date ; 
income-tax would probably now be at a lower rate than 
six shillings in the pound ; and, most important of all, fewer 
wooden crosses might be seen on the battlefields of France 
and elsewhere. 

Again, a knowledge of military history is as indispensable 
to the statesman in peace as it is in war. At the present 
moment, for example, there is an outcry for greater economy, 
and the fighting services, being of an unproductive character, 
are rightly regarded as being amongst the first where reduc- 
tion of expenditure should begin. An essential preliminary, 
however, to this step is the adoption of a sound and stable 
poHcy based on established principles of war, and on a com- 
prehensive survey of the whole question of Imperial Defence. 
If our military edifice is built on this foundation, it will be 
both safe and economical ; if it is erected on the shifting 
sands of opportunism and political expediency, it will be 
neither economical nor able to weather the storms to which 
it may be exposed. 

These observations on the duties of the statesman may 

2 c 



386 FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 

seem to imply that he alone made mistakes in the Great War, 
and that the soldier and sailor were convicted of none. I 
can assure the reader that this is far from being my opinion, 
so far as the soldier is concerned. He frequently omitted to 
practise the things that he had been so careful to learn before 
the war ; he was taught a great deal that he had not before 
known ; and he was compelled to realise that the principles 
he had been at such pains to lay down required much amend- 
ment in their apphcation. My desire is not to draw an 
unfavourable comparison as between the statesman and 
the fighting man, but to emphasise the increased importance 
of the statesman's duties, and the necessity of their being 
imdertaken only by men who have been educated to carry 
them out. I have seen the Government machine at work 
at close quarters for many years during peace, and for a 
longer period than any other British General during war, 
and the conclusion to which I have come is that the conduct 
of modem war is so complex that, in the Cabinet as elsewhere, 
the days of the amateur are over. 

. It is for this reason, and at the risk of appearing to 
trespass beyond my legitimate sphere, that I venture to 
suggest that all those who aspire to exercise ministerial 
control over the future destinies of the Empire should make 
military history the subject of much more systematic 
study than has hitherto been the custom. By this means 
only, so it seems to me, can they hope efficiently to dis- 
charge the duties devolving upon them in peace, and use- 
fully to assist in guiding their country through the ordeal 
of war. 



DATES OF PROMOTION 



Enlisted 

Lance-Corporal 

Corporal 

Lance-Sergeant 

Sergeant 

Troop Sergeant-Major 

Second-Lieutenant 

Lieutenant 

Captain . 

Major 

Lieutenant-Colonel 

Colonel . 

Major-General . 

Lieutenant-General 

General . 

Field-Marshal . 



November 1877. 
February 1879. 
April 1879. 
May 1881. 
January 1882. 
March 1885. 
June 1888. 
March 1891. 
April 1895. 
March 1900. 
November 1900. 
November 1903. 
December 1910. 
October 1915. 
June 1916. 
March 1920. 



387 



FOREIGN HONOURS RECEIVED DURING THE 

GREAT WAR 

American — Distinguished Service Medal. 

Belgian — L'Ordre de la Couronne (Grand Cordon), and Croix 
de Guerre. 

Chinese — Order of Chia Ho (Excellent Crop) ist Class. 

French — L6gion d'Honneur (Grand Officier), and Croix de 
Guerre avec Palme. 

Italian — Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus (Grand Cross), 
and Order of the Crown of Italy (Grand Cross). 

Japanese — Order of the Rising Sun (Grand Cordon). 

Russian — Order of St. Alexander Nevsky, with Swords. 

Servian — Order of the White Eagle, ist Class, with Swords. 

The Russian Order was one of the last of its class bestowed 
on a foreign ojBficer by the late Czar. 

The American medal was presented by General Pershing, 
and the Legion of Honour was received from the hands of General 
Joffre. 

The French Army Order, or citation, regarding the award of 
the Croix de Guerre was as follows : 

" Officier General du plus grand m6rite et des plus distingu^. 
Apr^ avoir rempU en France, sous les ordres du Mar6chal French, 
differents postes de haute confiance dans lesquels il a deploye 
les qualit^s de bravoure, d'^nergie et d'endurance, qui I'ont rendu 
legendaire dans les Armies Brittaniques, s'est vu confier par son 
Gouvemement le poste de Chef d'Etat Major Imperial qu'il a 
rempli pendant la plus grande partie de la Guerre et ou il s'est 
particulierement distingue." 



388 



INDEX 



Abbeville, 215 

Abbottabad, 65 

Acheson, Commander, 358 

Adirondacks, 146 

Admiralty, relations with the 

General Staff, 294 ; reorganisation 

of, 295 
Adrianople, 148 
Advisers, naval and military, 254, 

255. 318, 319 

Afghanistan, description of, 53 ; 
boundary questions, 55 

Africa, Northern, visit to, 143 

Afzul-ul-Mulk, 67 

Aircraft, 167, 168, 349. 350, 351 

Aisne, the, 213, 214 

Aix-la-Chapelle, 371 

Albert Victor, Prince, 40 

Aldershot, stationed at, 2, 24, 33, 153 

Alexandretta, proposed operations 
from, against the Turks, 314, 315 

AlexeiefE, Gen,, 252, 306 

Allen, Gen., 367, 376 

AUenby, Field-Marshal Viscount, 
83, 88, 89, 306 

Altham, Lt.-Gen. Sir E., 95, 97, 98, 
129, 138 

America, entry into Great War, 326 ; 
shipping for troops, 324, 326 

Amiens, visit of Staff College stu- 
dents to, 181 ; advanced base in 
Great War, 202, 206, 209 

Amir Abdul Rahman, 53 

Ammunition, shortage of, in Great 
War, 214, 217, 221, 227, 232, 233 

Antwerp, British troops sent to, 

215 
Aosta, Duke of, 297 
Ardagh, Maj.-Gen. Sir J., 91, 99, 1 01 
Army, British, general conditions of 

soldier's life in 1877, 3 et seq. ; in 

I907> ^55, 156. 157 
Army Headquarters in India and 



Great Britain, comparison of 

systems, 50, 51 
Army policy in 1888, 92, 93, 94 ; in 

1901, 128 ; in 1914, 192, 193 
Army Staff system in the field, 197, 

198 
Articles of Wax, 12 
Artillery, heavy, 152, 214, 217, 227 
Ashmore, Maj.-Gen., 349 
Asquith, Mr., 189, 195, 235, 253. 

261, 274, 287, 305 
Asser, Lt.-Gen. Sir J., 357 
Astor, 58 

Babington, Lt.-Gen. Sir J., 2 
Babusar Pass, 65 
Bacon, Admiral, 293, 294 
Baghdad, capture of, 275 
Balfour, Mr., 103, 189, 268, 373 
Balkans, visit to, 147 et seq. 
Ballard, Brig.-G^n., 173 
Baramula, 57 
Baroghil Pass, 64 

Barrow, Lt.-Gen. Sir G., 85, 88, 173 
Barry, Col. Stanley, 345 
Bartholomew, Col., 222, 251 
Bases, Overseas, 198 
Battlefields, 1870 war, 85, 180 
Battye, Lt.-Col., 74 
Beatty, Admiral of the Fleet, Earl, 

352 
Beauchamp, Earl, 354 
Belgians, King of the, 366, 375 
Belgium, probable infringement of 

neutrality by Germany, 144 
Belgrade, 150 
Beresford, Admiral Lord Charles, 

371. 372 
BerUn, 148 

Biddle, Col., 376 

Bird, Brig. -Gen., 251 

Birdwood, Gen. Sir W., 42 

Black, Col., 132 



389 



390 



FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 



Black Mountain Expedition, 1891, 

45 
Blair, Col., 2 
Bliss. Gen., 326, 329, 367 
Bloemfontein, 117 
Blood, Lt.-Gen. Sir B., 70 
Boer War, see South African War 
Boriani, Col., 296 
Boscawen, Maj., 154 
Boselli, M., 292 
Bosphorus, 149 

Boulogne, base at, 202, 205, 209 
Bovey, Capt., 345 

Brackenbury, Gen. Sir H., 50, 86, 87 
Brade, Sir R., 252 
Braithwaite, Lt.-Gen. Sir W., 365 
Brewis, Capt., 170 
Briand, M., 291 
Brighton, stationed at, 19 
British Expeditionary Force, 140, 

203 
Brooke, Mr. C, 339 
Bucephalus, monument to, 42 
Bucharest, 148 
Buckley, Col., 251 
Buda Pesth, 150 

Bulgarian troops, inspection of, 148 
BuUer, Gen. Sir Red vers, 86, loi, 

102, 109 
Burnham, Mr., American Scout, 121 
Burzil Pass, 58 
Busaco, battlefield of, 145 
Buston, Brig.-Gen., 154 
Butler, Capt., 251 

Cadet battalions in Great War, 267 
Cadorna. Gen., 252, 296, 297, 312, 

314. 332 
Callwell, Maj.-Gen. Sir C, 138, 251, 

252, 270 
Cambrai, battle of, 312 
Cambridge, Duke of, 5, 6, 17 
Cambridge University, honorary 

degree, 373 
Campbell, Maj.-Gen. Sir W., 154 
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H., 93 
Canada, visit to, 146 
Canadian Division, the, 230 
Canterbury, Cavalry Depot, 34 
Caporetto, battle of, 312, 313 
Capper, Maj.-Gen. Sir J., 168 
Capper, Maj.-Gen. Sir T., 88, 233 
Card well, Mr., 2 
Carthews, Pte., 244 
Castelnau, Gen. de, 310 
Champagne, attack in, 232, 233 



ChantiUy, conferences at, 234, 284, 

285. 307, 325, 327 
Chatham, stationed at, 21 
Chichester, Maj.-Gen. Sir E., 358 
Chief of General Staff, at Aldershot, 

153 et seq. ; in France, 218 et seq. 
Chief of Imperial General Staff, 236 

et seq., 246 et seq. 
Chilas, 65 
Chitral, 66, 67 

Chitral Relief Force, 66 ei seq. 
Christian, Prince, of Schleswig- 

Holstein, 46 
Church Army, 362 
Churchill, Mr. Winston, 353, 369, 379 
Clemenceau, M., 292, 332, 371 
Clive, Brig.-Gen. S., 252, 361 
Coast defence, see Home defence 
Cockerill, Brig.-Gen., 251 
Cody, Col., 167, 168 
Colonial Defence Committee, 94, 137 
Colonial Section, employed in, 95 

et seq. 
Colville, Vice-Admiral Hon. Sir S., 

179 
Commissions, grant of, to rankers, 

29 et seq. 
Committee of Imperial Defence, see 

Imperial defence 
Compi^gne, 212 

Compulsory service, see Man-power 
Conferences, Allied, 292 ; at Rome, 

292 ; at Calais, 307 ; at Rapallo, 

327, 328 ; at Versailles, 330 et seq. 
Connaught, Duke of, 86, 184, 366 
Constantinople, 148 
Coulommiers, 213 
Cowans, Gen. Sir J., 201 
Cox, Col., 222, 251 
Craufurd, Gen., 122 
Crimes while in ranks, 14, 19 
Crofton- Atkins, Maj., 211 
Cronje, 105, 109, no, in, 113 
Crowe, Col., 132 
Culme - Seymour, Admiral Sir 

Michael, 371, 372 
Curragh incident, the, 193 
Curzon, Earl, 54 

Dallas, Maj.-Gen., 345 
Dammartin, 212 
Dardanelles Committee, 253 
Dardanelles operations, see Gallipoli 

Peninsula 
Darkot Pass, 63, 64 
Davidson, Maj.-Gen. Sir J., 174 



INDEX 



391 



Dawkins, Col., 201, 212, 218 

De Burgh, Capt.. 345 

D6cquis, M., 202 

Deedes, Col., 222 

Deer-stalking in Scotland, 371 

Defence Committee of Cabinet, 94, 

loi, 134 
Degoutte, Gen., 368. 375 
De Lisle, Lt.-Gen. Sir H., 154 
Delm6-Radcliffe, Brig. -Gen. Sir C. 

252, 296 

Demobilisation difficulties in 19 19, 

353. 363 
Derby, Earl of, 287, 333, 334, 335 

Deshumbert, M., 84 

Despatch riders in the Great War, 

211, 212 
Detroit, 146 
De Wet, 115, 125 
Diamond Hill, battle of, 124 
DiUon, Lt.-Col., 185, 357, 376 
Dir, 68, 75, 76 

Directors, administrative, 201 
Dobson, Driver, 377 
Dominions Overseas, Ministers of, 

338 
Douglas, Gen. Sir C, 195, 196 

Douro, passage of, 145 

Dragoon Guards, 3rd, service in, 36 

et seq. 
Drill, defective methods of, 6, 15 
DubUn, stationed at, 27 
Du Cane, Lt.-Gen. Sir J., 222 
Dugdale, Capt., 25, 28 
Dundalk, stationed at, 24, 33 

East Africa, campaign in 191 4-1 7, 
279, 280 

Eastern Command, Commander-in- 
Chief of, 342, 343, 344 

Eddowes, Lt.-Col., 345 

Edmonds, Col., 132 

Egypt, operations in, 258, 275, 276, 
306 

Elle,s, Lt.-Gen. Sir E., 52 

Elles, Col. Sir H., 52, 222 

Elles, Lt.-Gen. Sir W.. 43, 45 

Ellington, Col., 251 

Esher Committee, 1903-4, 94, 136 

Evans, Capt., 294 

Executive Committee of Supreme 
War Council, see Supreme War 
Council 

Falkenhayn, Gen. von. 232, 233, 
323 



Fasson, Col., 132 

Fay. Sir S., 338 

FayoUe, Marshal, 368, 371 

F6re-en-Tardenois, 213 

Fergusson, Lt.-Gen. Sir C, 361 

Festubert, battle of, 231, 232 

Fielding, Maj.-Gen., 345 

Fisher, Admiral of the Fleet, Lord, 

136, 295, 296 
Fljdng Corps, Royal, 224, 225 
Foch, Marshal, 231, 232, 309, 310, 

311, 312, 325, 330, 332, 333, 358, 

366, 367, 370, 378 
Ford, Maj.-Gen., 211 
Forestier-Walker, Maj.-Gen., 88, 132 
Forster, Lord, 338 
Foster, Col., 174 
Fowke, Lt.-G«n. Sir G., 222, 223, 

340 
Fowler, Maj.-Gen. Sir J., 62, 222, 223 

France, our relations with, before 
the Great War, 133, 138, 140 

French, Col., 251 

French, Field-Marshal Earl, 109, 
III, 115, 153, 184, 258, 332, 345 

French language, study of, 84, 95 

Freyer, Col. Sir P., 347 

Fuller, Brig.-Gen., 358 

Furse, Lt.-Gen. Sir W., 173 

Gallipoli Peninsula, operations in, 

247, 248, 269, 270 
Garrett, Maj., 24 
Gas, use of, in war, 230, 351 
Gaza, battle of, 306 
General Staff, formation of, 136; 

reorganisation of, in France, 191 5, 

219, 220, 221 ; at War Office in 

1916, 249 et seq. 
George, Mr. Lloyd, 253, 287, 318, 

331 
Germany, our relations with, before 

the Great War, 134, 139 
G.H.Q. in France, 225, 226, 227 
Gilgit, 58, 60, 65 
Gilpin, Col., 211 

Godley, Lt.-Gen. Sir A., 154, 365 
Gore-Browne, Lt.-Col., 357, 376, 377 
Gough, Lt.-Gen. Sir H., 173 
Gough, Brig.-Gen. J., 173 
Gouraud, Gen., 368, 370 
Graduated battahons, 305, 363 
Graham, Capt., 2, 14 
Granet, Sir G., 338 
Great Britain, Commander-in-Chief, 

345 et seq. 



392 



FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 



Greaves, Gen. Sir G., 36 

Greene, Six Conyngham, 148 

Grenfell, Field-Marshal Lord, 142 

Grey, Lord, 139 

Grierson, Lt.-Gen. Sir J., 114, 121, 

122, 137, 140, 153. 195 
Guard Room at Aldershot, 1 1 
Gujrat, 41 
Gupis, 62 

Haig, Field-Marshal Earl, 83, 88, 

89, 244, 307. 330, 332, 334 
Haking. Lt.-Gen. Sir R., 88, 244 
Haldane, Lt.-Gen. Sir J., 365 
Haldane, Lord, 140, 141, 178 
Hamilton, Gen. Sir Ian, 23 
Hand-grenades or bombs, 192 
Harper, Lt.-Gen. Sir G., 174 
Harris, Sir C, 338 
Hartington Commission, 92, 93, 94 
Hassan Abdal, 45, 46 
Havre, base at, 205, 209 
Hay ward, Mr., murder of, 62 
Heath, Maj.-Gen. Sir C, 153 
Henderson, Mr. A., 297 
Henderson, Lt.-Gen. Sir D., 224 
Henderson, Col. G., 82, 83, 103, 106, 

107, 117, 118, 119 
Hildyard, Lt.-Gen. Sir H., 81, 82, 

171. 174 
Himalayas, 41, 63 

Hindu Kush, 54, 58, 63 

Holman, Maj.-Gen., 78, 132, 135 

Home defence, 92, 128, 165, 166, 

186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 191, 258, 

343. 347. 348. 349, 352 
Home forces, see Home defence 
Hoskins, Maj.-Gen. Sir A., 174 
Hospitals, miUtary, good work of, 

346, 347 
Howell, Capt., 173 
Huguet, Col., 140 
Hull, Maj.-Gen. Sir A., 174 
Hunza, 60, 61 
Huron, lake, 146 
Hutchison, Col., 222, 265, 267, 358, 

376, 377 
Hythe, School of Musketry, 23, 34 

Imperial defence, 94, 95, 96, 129, 

136, 137, 253. 385 
ImperiaU, Marquis, 297 
India, defence of, 54, 56, 134, 135, 

136, 139 
India, service in, 34 et seq. ; value 
of, to officers, 79, 80 



Indus, river, 47, 60, 64 

Inspector-General, duties of, 186, 
187 

Inspector-General of Communica- 
tions, 199, 200, 205 

Intelligence derived from enemy's 
press, 100 

Intelligence Branch, India, organi- 
sation of and employment in, 50 
et seq. 

Intelhgence Branch, War Ofi&ce, 
organisation of and emplo3mient 
in, 91 et seq., 129 et seq. 

Invasion of Great Britain, see Home 
defence 

Ireland, situation in, 24 ; rebellion 
of 1916, 265 

Italy, Kang of, 297 

Jackson, Admiral of the Fleet, Sir 

H., 179, 294 
Jacob, Lt.-Gen. Sir C, 365 
Jacobsdal, no 
James, Brig.-Gen., 244 
Janbatai Pass, 75 
Jandol valley, 73 
Japan, our relations with, before the 

Great War, 139 
J ebb. Col., 201 
Jellicoe, Admiral of the Fleet, 

Viscount, 294, 297 
Jerusalem, capture of, 306 
Jhelum, 41, 57 
Jhula, or rope-bridge, 59 
JofEre, Marshal, 202, 232, 234, 244, 

245, 252, 284, 285, 286, 325, 332. 

368 
Johannesburg, 123 
Jones, Brig.-Gen., 345 

Kafiristan, 55 

Kaiserslautern, 371 

Kanjutis, 61 

Kashmir, 57 e/ seq, 

Katgola Pass, 73 

Kekewich, Maj.-Gen., 109 

Kell, Col. Sir V., 251 

Kelly, Col., 69 

Kelly- Kenny, Maj.-Gen., 106, in, 

112, 115 
Kennedy, Maj.-Gen., 361 
Kerr, Major F., 154 
Khagan, 65 
Khar, action of, 72 
Kimberley, siege of, 109, no 
King, Col., 211 



INDEX 



393 



King Edward, visit to Paris, 138; 
visits to Aldershot, 166 

King George, visits to Aldershot, 167 ; 
at army manceuvres, 182, 183, 184 

Kirke, Col., 251 

Kishanganga, river, 58 

Kitchener, Field -Marshal Earl, 103, 
112, 135, 136, 235, 22,(>etseq., 250, 
263, 264, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 
276, 287 et seq., 305, 306 

Kohat, 45, 46 

Kunar, river, 64, 70 

Kurnaul, 38 

Kushalgarh, 45 et seq. 

Kut-el-Amara, siege of, see Meso- 
potamia 

X-adysmith, siege of, loi, 102 

Lagny, 212 

Lahore, 38 

Lake, Lt.-Gen. Sir P., 274 

Lambton, Maj.-Gen. Sir W., 225 

Lancers, i6th, enUsted in, i 

Languages, oriental, 36, 41, 43, 44, 

45, 49. 65 
Lansdowne, Marquis of, 99, 139 
Lawrence, Gen. Sir H., 132 
Lawson, Lt.-Gen. Sir H., 153, 154 
Leave Club, Cologne, 362 
Le Cateau, 202, 203, 204, 207 
Lectures, miUtary, 142, 143 
Le Mans, 206 
Liaison ofl&cers, 226 
Liggett, Gen., 366, 367 
Lincoln, visit to, 342 
Lockhart, Gen. Sir W., 45, 46, 54, 66 
Locusts, plague of, 47, 48 
Loos, battle of, 232, 233 
Low, Maj.-Gen. Sir R., 69 
Lowarai Pass, 76 
Lucas, Lt.-Col., 215, 222, 243, 296, 

339, 345 
Luck, Maj.-Gen. Sir R., 38, 44 

LudendorfE, Gen. von, 233, 281, 

320, 323 

Ludhiana, 38 

Lyautey, Marshal, 291 

Lynden-Bell, Maj.-Gen. Sir A., 132, 

215 
Lyttelton, Gen. Sir N., 137 

Macbean, Col., 132 
McCracken, Lt.-Gen. Sir F., 345 
Macdonogh, Lt.-Gen. Sir G., 221, 251 
Macedonia, visits to, 149 ; cam- 
paign in. 277, 278, 279, 323 



Machine guns, 34, 152, 214 

McKenna, Mr., 261, 268 

Mackenzie, Maj.-Gen. Sir C, 118 

McMahon, Major, 154 

Macready, Gen. Sir N., 198 

Mahsud Waziri, campaign in 1894, 
66 

Maillard, Lt.-Col., 32, 33 

Malakand Pass, battle of, 70, 71, 72 

Malcolm, Maj.-Gen. H., 132 

Malone, Maj., 28 

Mangin, Gen., 368, 369, 370 

Manceuvres at Aldershot, 162, 163 ; 
conduct of, 163, 164, 182 

Manceuvres, army, 1898, 86 ; 191 2 
and 1913, 182, 183, 184 ; prepara- 
tion for, in 1914, 195 

Man-power question in Great War, 
260 et seq., 297 et seq., 343 

Mardan, 70 

Marne, battle of the, 213 

Martial Law, meaning of, 360, 361 

Mason, Lt.-Col., 52, 66, 78 

Ma^tuj, 69 

Mathew, Maj.-Gen. Sir C, 209 

Maude, Lt.-Gen. Sir S., 89, 193, 270, 

274. 275 
Maud'huy, Gen., 370 
Maurice, Maj.-Gen. Sir F., 221, 243, 

250 
Maxwell, Gen. Sir J., 265, 276, 345 
Maxwell, Lt.-Gen. Sir R., 200, 218 
Mayence, 370 
Meerut, 36 
Melun, 212 

Melville, Mr. LesHe, 30 
Mesopotamia, campaign in, 248, 259, 

271, 272, 274, 275, 305, 307 
Messines Ridge, battle of, 311, 312 
Metz, visits to, 86, 143, 144, 370 
Meuse valley defences, 86, 144 
Miankilai, 73, 75 
Michel, Gen., 367, 375 
Midleton, Earl of, 128 
Miles, Lt.-Gen. Sir H., 81, 171 
MiUtary attaches, 131 
Mihtary Governor on Rhine, 359, 

362 
Mihtary history, value of, to minis- 
ters, 383 et seq. 
Mihtary situation at end of 191 5, 

235, 247 et seq. ; 1916, 281 et seq. ; 

1917, 320 et seq. 
Military Training, Director of, 186 et 

seq. 
Millerand, M., 370 



394 



FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 



Milne, Gen. Sir G., 88, 89, 120, 132, 

278, 292 
Ministers, onerous duties of, in war, 

385 
Miranzai expedition in 1891, 45 et 

seq. 

Monro, Gen. Sir C, 23, 89, 269, 275, 

317. 338 
Mons, retreat from, 206 et seq. 
Montgomery, Maj.-Gen. Sir A., 358 
Montgomery, Col. H., 222 
Montgomery, Maj.-Gen. K., 154 
Montreal, 146 
Mora Paiss, 70 

Morland, Lt.-Gen. Sir T., 365, 375 
Mounted Infantry in South African 

War, 105 
Muridki, camp of exercise, 37 et seq. 
Murray, Gen. Sir A., 88, 153, 154, 

186, 196, 198, 218, 236, 257, 275, 

276, 306, 345 
Murray, Col. Sir M., 366 
Murree, 42. 57 

Musketry, training in, 13, 15 
Muster parades, 12 
Muttra, stationed at, 36, 37 

Nagar, 60 

Nanga Parbat, 58 

Naval flotilla on the Rhine, 358, 359 

Neuve Chapelle, battle of, 229, 230 

New Armies, 180, 217, 298 

Newman, Lt.-Col., 357 

Niagara frontier, 146 

Nicholl, Col., 154 

Nicholson, Field-Marshal Lord, 106, 

128, 137, 153. 167, 168 
Niederbronn, 85 
Nivelle, Gen.. 285, 307, 308. 309, 

325. 327. 332 
Nixon, Gen. Sir J., 70 
Nizam-ul-Mulk, 67, 68 
Non-commissioned ofl&cers, influence 

of, 28 
Northumberland, Duke of, 251 
North-west frontier of India, 52 et 

seq. 
Nowshera, 69 
Noyon, 212 

Officers, proficiency and training of, 
16, 17 ; provision of, 266, 267, 268 

Of&cers' Training Corps, 186 

Oliver, Mr., 283 

Operations, military, official ac- 
counts of, 119 



Oporto, 145 

Ordnance, Army, regulations of, 208 

Orleans, 180 

Ottawa, 146 

Owen, Major Roddy, 74 

Oxford University, honorary degree, 

373 
Oxley, Col., 182, 183 

Paardeberg, battle of, 112 

Paderewski, M., 373 

Painleve, M., 292, 309 

Palestine, operations in, 306, 315, 

316, 317, 318, 331, 334 
Palmer, Gen. Sir P., 44 
Pa mir s, 57 et seq. 
Panjkora, river, 70, 73, 75, 76 
Paris, 202, 212 
Passchendaele, battle of, 312 
Pay, officers'. 150, 354, 355 
Peace celebrations in 19 19, 208, 371 
Peek, Capt., 345, 357 
Pell6, Gen., 244 
Peninsula battlefields, 144, 145 
Perceval, Maj.-Gen., 173, 221 
Percival, Col., 174, 201, 210 
Percy, Earl, 251 
Pershing, Gen., 326, 366 
PeshawEir, 44, 69 

P6tain, Marshal, 308, 309, 330, 368 
PhilUps, Lt., 358 
Picquart, Gen., 181 
Pir Panjal, 58 
Pirrie, Lord, 339, 340 
Placid, Lake, 146 
Plans, alternative, 313 et seq. 
Plevna, 148 
Plumer, Field-Marshal Lord, 169, 

231. 335. 336. 358 
Poincar6, M., 371 

Policy, as affecting war prepara- 
tions, 132, 133 
Poplar Grove, battle of, 115, 116 
Portland, Duke of, 371, 372 
Pretoria, occupation of, 123 
Pulteney, Lt.-Gen. Sir W., 345 
Punishment, military, system of, 11, 
12, 13 

Quartermaster - General, in Great 
War, 197 et seq. ; duties of, in the 
field, 197, 198 

Quebec, 146 

Radcliffe, Maj.-Gen. Sir P., 222 
Rakapushi, 60 



INDEX 



395 



Ramghat, 58, 65 
Rankers, promotion of, 30, 31 
Rapallo Conference, 328, 332 
Rawal Pindi, stationed at, 41 e^ seq. 
Rawlinson, Gen. Lord, 171 
Recruit's life in the army in 1877, 

2 et seq. 
Reshun, 69 
Rheims, 202 
Rhine, Command of British Army of 

the, 356 et seq. 
Rhineland High Commission, 374, 

375. 376 
Ribot, M., 292 
Robat, 76 

Robb, Maj.-Gen. Sir F., 154, 200, 344 
Roberts, Field-Marshal Earl, 39, 51, 

52, 69. 83, 103, 105, 107, 108, 

112. 113, 115, 116, 117, 122, 125. 

126, 127, 134, 136. 141, 217 
Robertson, Capt. B., 244, 296 
Robertson, Sir G., 68 
Robinson, Rifleman, 377 
Rodd, Sir R., 313 
Rome, 291, 313 
Romer, Maj.-Gen., 132, 345 
Rosebery, Lord, 295, 296 
Ross, Col., 173 
Rumania, visit to, 148 ; entry into 

war, 281 
Russia, our relations with, before the 

Great War, 133, 134, 138 ; Lord 

Kitchener's mission to, 305, 306 ; 

inter-Allied mission to, 306 

Sado, 73, 76 

St. Nazaire, base at, 206, 209 

St. Omer, 215, 217 

St. Quentin, 212 

St. Vincent, Capt. Lord, 26 

Salonika, visit to, 149 ; see also 
Macedonia 

Sarrail, Gen., 278, 292 

Sars-le-Bruydre, conference at, be- 
fore battle of Mons, 206 

Sault Ste. Marie canals, visit to, 146 

Schwabe, Lt.-CoL, 25, 30, 31, 32 

Science, its value in war, 351 

Sclater, Gen. Sir H., 345 

Sentries, duties of, 10 

Settle, R,, 244 

Seymour, Lt.-Col., 357 

Shakot Pass, 70 

Shawitakh Pass, 64, 65 

Sher Afzul, 67, 68, 75 

Shinaz, or skin raft, 59 



Shipping, importance of, in Great 
War, 324, 326, 327 

Sick, treatment of, in army, 7 

Signal communications, 160, 161, 
223, 224 

Signallers, regimental, 25, 43 

Sillem, Maj.-Gen. Sir A., 358 

Simla, stationed at, 50 et seq. 

Sims, Admiral, 351 

Sinai Peninsula, operations in, 275, 
276 

Skill-at-arms, 18, 40, 42 

Smith-Dorrien, Gen. Sir H., 153, 
157, 158, 162, 164. 165, 231, 279 

Smuts, Lt.-Gen., 279, 280 

Snow, Lt.-Gen. Sir T., 345 

Sofia, 148 

Soldier, British, in the 'seventies, 2 ; 
relations with his officers, 107, 
108, 380; characteristics of, 380 

Somme, battle of, 280, 281, 285, 307 

Sonnino, Baron, 292 

South African War, preparations 
for, 96 et seq. ; advance from the 
Modder to Bloemfontein, 109 et 
seq. ; strategy and tactics, 117, 
118; advance from Bloemfontein 
to Pretoria, 121 et seq. ; subsequent 
operations, 123 

Speeches in public, 266 

Spencer, Earl, 184 

Srinagar, 57, 65 

Staff, first appointment to, 52 

Staff College, preparation for en- 
trance, 78 ; student at, 81 et seq. ; 
value of course, 88, 89, 90 ; com- 
mandant of, 169 et seq. ; history 
of, 169, 170 ; advice given to 
students, 176, 177, 178 

Staff officers, duties of, at G.H.Q., 
225, 226 ; relations with troops, 
226 

Staff school, 268 

Staff tours, 165, 172 

Stanhope, Mr., 92, 97 

Stephenson, Maj.-Gen., 153 

Stewart, Col. C, 174 

Steyn, President, 121 

Stopford, Maj.-Gen. Sir L., 222 

Stopford, Capt., 222 

Strasburg, 370 

Strikes, industrial, on the Rhine, 362 

Stuart, Sir H., 375, 376 

Summary Courts, 361 

Supply, system of, in war, 198, 199, 

200, 201 



396 



FROM PRIVATE TO FIELD-MARSHAL 



Supreme War Council, 234, 313, 

327 et seq. 
Swat, 68, 70, 72, 73 
Sydenham, Col. Lord, 94, 136 

Tagart, Maj.-Gen. Sit H., 345 

Tandy, Col., 222 

Tanks, 168, 268, 269 

Territorial Force, 140, 190 

Thesiger, Maj.-Gen., 233 

Thomas, M., 291 

Thwaites, Maj.-Gen, Sir W., 132 

Tirard, M., 376 

Toronto, 146 

Torres Vedras, lines of, 144 

Townshend, Maj.-Gen. Sir C, 62, 
68, 75, 248 

Tragbal Pass, 58 

Training, military, in the 'seventies, 
14 et seq. ; in India, 38, 39 ; at 
Aldershot before the Great War, 
156, 157, 158, 159; during the 
war, 220 

Trenchard, Air-Marshal Sir H., 224 

Trinity College, Cambridge, 183 

Tritton, Sir W., 342 

Troopships, life on board, 35 

Trotter, Col., 129 

Udine, 296, 313 

Ulster, proposed coercion of, in 191 4, 

193, 194, 195 
Umra Khan, 55, 68, 69, 73, 75 
United States, visit to, 146, 147 
Unity of command, see Supreme 

War Council 

Van Dewenter, Gen., 279, 280 
Venizelos, M., 373 
Verdun, battle of, 280, 281, 370 
Versailles Conference, 315, 330 et seq. 
Vienna, 148 
Vimy Ridge, 231, 232 
Voluntary enlistment, disadvan- 
tages of, 16, 159 
Volunteers, 19, 128, 140 



Walter, Capt., 37 

War Cabinet, 253, 254, 256 

War Committee, 253 

War, the Great, unreadiness for, 
192, 193. 228, 229 

War, supreme conduct of, 235 et seq., 
253, 282, 283, 284, 313 et seq. ; pre- 
paration for, includes systematic 
training of ministers, 383 et seq. 

Waterfield, Brig. -Gen., 73 

Waters, Col., 95 

Way, Capt., 154 

Wester Wemyss, Admiral of the 
Fleet, Lord, 294 

West Front, importance of, 232, 235, 
311, 323, 324, 325 

Weygand, Gen., 296, 328, 367 

Whigham, Lt.-Col., 2, 20, 25, 29, 30 

Whigham, Maj.-Gen. Sir R., 221, 

243 
White, Field-Marshal Sir G., 69, 79, 

98 
Wigram, Lt.-Col. CHve, 154, 184 
Wigram, Col. K., 222 
WilHams, Maj.-Gen. Sir B., 132 
Wing, Maj.-Gen., 154, 233 
Wolseley, Field-Marshal Viscount, 

17, 79, 87, 99, 102, 127 
Wood, Field-Marshal Sir E., 17, 21 
Wood, Capt., 154 

Woodroffe, Col., 201, .02, 203, 215 
Woollcombe, Lt.-Gen. Sir C, 345 
Worcester, visit to, 354 
Wular Lake, 57 
Wyndham Quinn, Col., 28 

Yarde-BuUer, Brig.-Gen., 252 

Yarkand, river, 61, 64 

Yarkhun, river, 64 

Yasin, 62, 63 

Y.M.C.A., 362 

York, stationed at, 23 

Young Soldier battaUons, 305, 355, 

362 
Younghusband, Sir F., 68 
Ypres, battles of, 216, 230, 231, 312 



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